Value not Volume is Best Strategy for Myanmar Tourism

Value is better than volume – this was the message given to government and tourism industry officials at UNWTO´s recent Workshops on Strategic Directions for Myanmar´s Tourism, held in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw on the  3rd and 4th July.

Myanmar, a country which has only recently opened its doors to international visitors, is commonly reported to be the next ¨in¨ destination in Asia and the Pacific – and rightly so, according to UNWTO Consultant Mr. Hans Carl Jacobsen, who ran the workshops along with UNWTO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Xu Jing.

¨This world class destination is spectacular, and as yet many of its rich tourism resources remain untouched, ¨ said Mr. Jacobsen. ¨Myanmar has a lot to offer to tourists. However, the country should go for a value-based strategy, not a volume-based strategy. The world already knows about Myanmar – the media has provided plenty of free promotion. The challenge now is to manage the influx of tourists in a way that ensures that the benefits of increased tourism flow down to the people – which among other things will help to combat poverty – and assist the country in conserving its natural and cultural resources for future generations. ¨

In 2011, Myanmar welcomed 391,000 international tourists, an increase of almost 26% from the previous year. At current UNWTO projections, the Asia Pacific Region will welcome more international tourists than any other region in the world over the next eighteen years, with numbers expected to increase by 331 million in two decades, from 204 million in 2010 to 535 million in 2030.

Myanmar, with continued focus on travel facilitation led by the introduction of visas on arrival, an ease on travel restrictions and kiosks selling the local currency at official exchange rates, will be well placed to benefit from this tourism growth in Asia and the Pacific – if the country´s tourism development is planned and managed responsibly.

¨Sometimes, less is more, ¨ noted Mr. Xu Jing. ¨Yangon, for example, has many beautiful old buildings that could be restored instead of destroyed for new development. Myanmar should focus on its unique strengths and ensure its infrastructure is improved to match future demand.¨

This visit was the second visit of UNWTO to Myanmar this year. In May, UNWTO Secretary-General Mr. Taleb Rifai travelled to Myanmar to deliver the UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter to President U Thein Sein and hold discussions with tourism industry officials. In June, Myanmar became the 155th Member State of UNWTO.