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ADB - Asian Development Bank : Myanmar Unveils $500 Million Tourism Plan

06/05/2013 | 04:40am EDT

NAY PYI TAW, MYANMAR - The Government of Myanmar, alongside the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Norway, today unveiled a Tourism Master Plan which outlines 38 development projects valued at nearly a half billion dollars that will help increase Myanmar's tourism competitiveness, protect environmentally important areas, and safeguard ethnic communities.

"This master plan outlines a path to welcoming more visitors to Myanmar without threatening our unique cultural heritage or endangering pristine environments," said U Htay Aung, Myanmar's Minister for Hotels and Tourism.

If Myanmar continues implementing economic, political, and social reforms, international visitor arrivals are forecast to rise as high as 7.5 million in 2020 - a seven-fold increase from current numbers - with corresponding tourism receipts worth $10.1 billion. Under a high growth scenario, the tourism industry could provide up to 1.4 million jobs by 2020.

"Tourism will be a pillar of Myanmar's economy, and it has the potential to create meaningful job opportunities for the country's people, including those living in poor communities," said ADB Vice President Stephen Groff. "This plan is a long-term vision, and a solid start to ensuring tourism contributes to equitable social and economic development in Myanmar."

The master plan, funded by the Government of Norway, recommends building tourism-related human resources by strengthening the tourism education and training system, and identifies $44.5 million in new opportunities and partnerships aimed at training tourism workers.

"The Myanmar Tourism Master Plan provides a leading tool for the Government of Myanmar to develop the sector in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. The implementation of the plan will demand strong government leadership and coordination among a wide range of government agencies and state and regional governments," said the Norwegian ambassador to Myanmar, Katja Nordgaard.

Projects focus on expanding international air arrivals in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, undertaking improvements to the Bagan river pier to support more cruises, and building feeder roads in destinations like Ngapali beach and Inle Lake.

Myanmar's 1993 Tourism Law will be reviewed and updated to streamline licensing formalities for hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and tour guides, as well as to amend sections governing regulations around the gaming subsector, labor, and the establishment of outbound tour operations for Myanmar citizens. The master plan suggests establishing a Tourism Executive Coordination Board, chaired at the vice-president level, to draw the various tourism-related ministries, agencies, and federations together under a single umbrella.

The plan also outlines the need for new tourist police divisions to be set up not only to safeguard tourists, but to prevent child trafficking and sex tourism. It suggests new tourism initiatives be introduced to ethnic communities using pilot community-based tourism projects that ensure local people are prepared to handle an influx of visitors, and maintain control over tourism in their communities.

Nearly half a million visitors arrived by air in Myanmar last year, with Thailand, the People's Republic of China, Japan, the US, and the Republic of Korea making up the bulk of visitors. France, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom each accounted for about 4-5% of overall arrivals. Another 465,614 visitors - mostly on day trips from Thailand - arrived via land borders.

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