Social media posts focused on recipes for traditional Myanmar dishes and songs and documentaries are trending and generating interest about the Myanmar culture.
These messages are encouraging people to #stayhome and enjoy these activities on their own. New hashtags such as #TravelKayahlater and #TravelMyanmarTomorrow have been quite popular and conveying that the destination is taking steps to mitigate risks and will soon be ready to welcome tourists with the COVID-19 crisis well under control.
This approach was implemented in both Kayah State and the Tanintharyi Region, with their own curated content, messaging and hashtags. The new Tanintharyi destination promotion website went live earlier in June this year including all updates regarding COVID-19 and travel in the region.
Tourism is one of the sectors, which has been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past few months, the government of Myanmar had to impose restrictive measures that inevitably affected its tourism industry.
During this challenging time, the International Trade Centre has provided remote support to young staff of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MoHT), in both Kayah State and Tanintharyi Region, by upgrading their crisis communication skills on digital media.
The Center for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) in partnership with the International Trade Centre focused on supporting the at the national level .
These joint efforts particularly helped to fight disinformation online and to foster the Ministry's role as a leading provider of reliable news updates.
In January this year, before the COVID-19 outbreak, social media trainings were conducted in both Dawei (Tanintharyi Region) and Loikaw (Kayah State). These trainings helped the local MoHT to set up a strategic digital marketing plan including social media followers' goals and weekly Instagram and Facebook topics. Since then the Loikaw and Dawei teams have improved their social media optimisation on Facebook, Instagram profile and Google Business in accordance with the content plans.
By putting tourists' safety first, this social media presence aimed to show empathy and build strong bonds and trust with future travellers. This was done by, for example, posting pictures and videos of natural scenery rather than in-personinteractions, to highlight the importance of quarantine and social distancing.
These trainings, both in Kayah State and Tanintharyi Region, attracted over 100 representatives from various private and public sector members. These included the Guide Association, Hotel Association and Restaurants, as well as the local MoHT. The underlying idea is that regional SMEs and tourism stakeholders should become brand ambassadors and be active players in tourism destination promotion. The majority of those who attended the trainings were young local community members of below 35 years of age. This has improved the youth community engagement and capacity in digital marketing literacy and website creation.
The social media campaigns will contribute to keeping these regions on the tourist map during and after the crisis, as well as building their credibility as safe and reliable destinations which tourists will feel comfortable to travel back to once it is possible to do so.
This support was provided through the International Trade Centre's NTF IV Inclusive Tourism project in Myanmar. It focuses on fostering economic opportunities through the development of sustainable tourism products in Myanmar - consolidating previous project results in Kayah State and extending activities to Tanintharyi Region. In addition, the project supports Myanmar's tourism industry at national level in marketing and branding, tourism statistics and development of Codes of Conduct for tourists, tour operators and communities.
The NTF IV Inclusive Tourism project is funded by the Government of The Netherlands.