A two-day Hospitality & Tourism Conference in Myanmar was held on 27th and 28th February at Trader’s Hotel in Yangon. It was officially opened by the Minister of Hotels and Tourism U Htay Aung in his welcome speech. The conference offered tourism stakeholders from both private and public sector a platform for dialogue and allowed potential investors to gain insights into the Myanmar tourism industry as well as collect the latest information on investment requirements. Paul Rogers, a British consultant, who led the team of consultants employed by the Asian Development Bank and NORAD, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, to develop a Tourism Master Plan for Myanmar, presented the initial findings relating to the Myanmar Master Plan, and pointed out that a draft would be published for public consultation in the second half of March for two weeks. Check the Ministry of Tourism website for further information.
Dr. Andrea Valentin, Director and founder of Tourism Transparency presented the “Dos and Don’ts for Tourists” project, highlighting that Myanmar is at a crossroads in its tourism development and the need to embrace a responsible tourism policy in order to maintain Myanmar’s unique and rich culture and minimise negative tourism impacts.
The following panel discussion also focused on the important question how to avoid uncontrolled tourism growth and how to overcome pressing issues relating to land grabs and displacement. According to the National Statistics Office, tourism numbers in Myanmar hit the 1 million mark in 2012 for the first time. With hotel capacity already at its limit and lacking tourism infrastructure, the expected growth figures in the tourism sector raise concerns over how Myanmar will cope over the following years. The task is to strike a balance between infrastructure development and giving a voice to the affected people, in order to follow the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy. Critical discussions touched upon land ownership, human rights, the development of special tourism economic zones, and equitable benefit sharing from tourism.
Watch out for life footage of the ‘panel discussion’ to be posted soon.