Myanmar observes World Tourism Day 2019
World Tourism Day 2019 was organized at the Myanmar International Convention Center II in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday, under the theme of ‘Tourism and Job: A Better Future for All’ State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Vice President U Henry Van Thio attended the ceremony, together with Union Ministers Dr Pe Myint, Thura U Aung Ko, U Thant Sin Maung, U Thein Swe, U Soe Win and U Ohn Maung; the Chairman of Nay Pyi Taw Council, States/Region Chief Ministers and ministers, departmental heads, members of the National Tourism Development Central Committee, ambassadors, UN agencies, international development partners, representatives from the Myanmar Tourism Federation and associated groups, award-winners in the contests to commemorate the World Tourism Day, and invited guests.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi looked around the displays of tourist attractions in the states and regions, the implementing community based tourism programmes, tourism business firms, attractions to tourism investments and bicycles to be donated by the Flymya Tech Co, Ltd. to the 52 villages where community-based tourism is being implemented.
The ceremony was opened with the song entitled ‘Welcome with Golden Hands’ performed by artistes from the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture.
Vice President U Henry Van Thio, chairman of the National Tourism Development Central Committee gave an opening speech at the event.
He said that the member countries of the World Tourism Organization has celebrated the annual event since 27 September 1980 with the aim of making the people understand the crucial role of the tourism industry and its related benefits in social, cultural, political and economic sectors. Myanmar rejoined the UNWTO in 2012, and its annual ceremony has been organized since then.
The theme for this year aims to ensure a better future for all people by creating various job opportunities as the tourism industry was booming a lot in both developed and developing countries.
The UNWTO has estimated that the number of tourist arrivals internationally was 1.4 billion in 2018, increased by 6 per cent from 1.3 billion in 2017. It contributed 3.7 per cent to global economic development. The thriving of this industry could create job opportunities in related sectors, promote entrepreneurs, develop new capacities and help SMEs. The UNWTO has found that the booming of the tourism industry could significantly support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
In Myanmar, tourist arrivals from January to August this year numbered 2.81 million, increased by 25 per cent compared with the same period of previous year. The increasing number of inbound tourists will harmoniously support transport, infrastructure and financial management which are mainly included in the economic development of the country.
The Vice President also urged the relevant departments to support this industry that is the main driving force for the economic development of the country.
Myanmar has formed the National Tourism Development Central Committee, tourism committees and local tourism committee under the Myanmar Tourism Law which was newly enacted on 17 September 2018. In accordance with this law, business licenses and their fees have been fixed. The local tourism committees are required to implement tourism projects with the approval of the central committee for more systematic development by reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of tourist destinations in respective areas. In addition to drawing plans for destinations, the local tourism committees need to explore the potential attractions in states and regions, to carry out tourism development projects with technical aid of foreign countries and to invite more local and foreign investments. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is actively promoting community-based tourism to explore cultural traditions of ethnic people, to reduce poverty and to conserve the natural environment. This plan has spread widely to 42 villages and 18 itineraries. As this plan can be participated by all interested local people, it could create employment opportunities and support the improvement of their socio-economic condition, in addition to infrastructural development. In order to support community-based tourism in line with international norms, the ministry has developed the Myanmar Community Based Tourism Standards guidebook with the contributions of local representatives in this industry and international development partners. This book was based on eight basic norms, 199 detailed standards, the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria and the ASEAN Community Based Tourism Standard to ensure sustainable development for community-based tourism.
The UNESCO has recognized ancient Pyu cities of Sri Ksetra, Beikthano and Hanlin as the World Heritage Site in 2014, and Bagan on 6 July 2019. As a result, more tourists have become interested in Myanmar as its image has improved.
Vice President U Henry Van Thio also asked to ensure a safe and convenient environment for the local and foreign visitors to maintain the development of the Myanmar tourism industry. He advised both the public and private sectors to build up reputations of different areas, to adopt norms and regulations in reducing the negative impacts of mass tourism.
In conclusion, he quoted the themes of this years’ World Tourism Day, saying to create job opportunities for the better future of all with the development of the tourism industry by using tourism resources of respective areas, while supporting incomes of local people and their socio-economic condition. Then, the video message of Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of UNWTO, was screened.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Vice President U Henry Van Thio posed for documentary photos together with the Union Ministers, the Chairman of the Nay Pyi Taw Council, the Chief Ministers and ministers, representatives of foreign embassies in Myanmar, international development partners, chairpersons, secretaries from the Myanmar Tourism Federation and the 11 associated groups, members of the National Tourism Development Central Committee, award-winners in the contests such as in hotel and tourism services, essay writing and photos to mark the World Tourism Day.
The Vice President presented the first award for best services in the category of local owned hotels to Amazing Ngapali Resort, the second award to Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw, and the third award to Eskala Hotel & Resort; under the category of joint-ventured hotels to Sule Shangri-la Hotel Yangon, the second award to Novotel Yangon Max and the third award to Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon.
Union Minister for Information Dr Pe Myint gave the first, second and third awards for best services in the category of local owned companies; Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture Thura U Aung Ko to the joint-ventured companies.
Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe presented awards to the winners in essay contest in basic education level; Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Ohn Maung to the winners in essay contest and impromptu talk contests in higher education level; Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman Dr Myo Aung to winners in the photo contest.
Next, a responsible person from Luxembourg Agency for Development Cooperation handed over the Myanmar Community Based Tourism Standards guidebooks to Union Minister U Ohn Maung.
U Mike Than Tun Win, the founder of Flymya Tech Co., Ltd, presented 318 bicycles for the villages where community-based tourism is being implemented. Union Minster U Ohn Maung presented a certificate for the donation.
Then, the Vice President, the Union Ministers and the guest enjoyed the performance of artistes from the Fine Arts Department. Vice President U Henry Van Thio then presented floral basket to the dance troupe.