Expanding tourism in Myanmar’s Kayah State and Tanintharyi region
ITC to step up support to tourism operators of two Myanmar’s rural regions
Earlier this year, the International Trade Centre (ITC) announced that it would be extending and expanding its support to Myanmar’s tourism sector as part of the fourth phase of the Dutch-funded Netherlands Trust Fund (NTF IV) programme. The four-year programme will be implemented in partnership with Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MoHT).
Projects under the programme in Myanmar will be looking to strengthen existing ITC interventions in Kayah State and extend activities to also cover the Tanintharyi region. Projects will be aiming to develop innovative and sustainable tourism products and services, including destination marketing and branding, improving tourism statistics, strengthening tourism-related associations and encouraging business linkages at national and regional levels.
Announcing the launch of the new programme in Dawei, Tanintharyi’s regional capital, ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘Together with our partners, ITC will seek to emulate the successes from Kayah in Tanintharyi. At the same time, the project will seek to further improve tourism products and services in Kayah, with the goal of making the state a learning centre for developing inclusive tourism. This will provide opportunities for other states that have shown interest in developing inclusive tourism – such as Chin or Shan – to learn from Kayah State’s experiences.’
Daw Khin Than Win, Acting Director-General, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MoHT), said: ‘I would like to thank ITC for its comprehensive support to the Myanmar tourism sector at national and regional level. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is particularly keen to receive further support for an improved system of tourism statistics that is crucial for a good understanding and the planning of tourism development.
In this respect, I welcome the collaboration between ITC and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and I am looking forward to working with them. We are also looking forward to continued collaboration with ITC to improve tourism marketing and branding.’
Mr. Aung Soe, Director-General, Myanmar Trade Promotion Organization (MyanTrade), Ministry of Commerce (MoC) said ITC was in the best position to continue helping Myanmar tourism sector to improve. ‘I particularly appreciate how ITC is empowering Myanmar regions – Kayah first and now Tanintharyi – transferring knowledge locally to assure the project’s sustainability,’ he said. ‘ITC is achieving this through very important initiatives such as the Training of Trainers (ToT) programme and setting up and facilitating public-private dialogues that is activating partnerships at the local level.’
A particular focus of the sustainable-tourism projects in Myanmar will be ensuring job creation and income generation among women and youth in an effort to reduce poverty. In addition to working with official regional and national authorities, ITC will be working alongside a range of tourism-related small and medium-sized enterprises and interest organizations.
The Kayah State villages that benefited from ITC’s previous interventions have seen a hike in the number of tourists. Between 2016 and 2017, international tourist visits to Kayah State increased by more than 40% and domestic tourist visits almost doubled from 17,000 to 33,000. Over the course of the project tourism spending in Kayah State increased by 400%. Working to bring the various ethnic groups together by promoting the preservation of diverse cultures and traditional practices, the project is seen as playing a role in bridging differences and contributing to peace.
In addition to local partners, ITC will also continue its partnership with the UNWTO to ensure data collection that will help identify the future needs of Myanmar’s tourism industry and provide user-friendly data to tourism operators and national and state levels. In collaboration with the MoC and MoHT, ITC will be developing and delivering a series of training sessions on food safety and hygiene, as well as supporting the development of promotional materials to promote Kayah State and Tanintharyi.
Crucial to the project will be interactions between stakeholders in Tanintharyi and in Kayah State. Ahead of the launch, ITC has organized learning exchanges between beneficiaries from Kayah State and Tanintharyi. This is the first part of what will be regular meetings that will help strengthen the development of inclusive tourism in both regions, and consolidate partnerships at the national level. It is foreseen that such interaction will be extended to also include tourism operators in Chin State in 2019.