Myanmar’s Kayah State showcased as tourism hotspot at Berlin trade show
The culturally rich Kayah State in eastern Myanmar is set to attract more tourists.
Tour operators from Myanmar explored business opportunities with operators from around the world during the 2016 Internationale Tourismus Börse (ITB) Berlin, one of the world’s leading travel trade shows, which took place from 9-12 March.
The business-to-business (B2B) meetings were organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) under the Netherlands Trust Fund (NTF) III Myanmar project, which focuses on promoting inclusive tourism in Kayah State. The project, implemented with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), showcases the tourism potential of Kayah State, which is home to scenic views and strong cultural heritage.
Promoting sustainable tourism
On 9 March during the ITB Convention, ITC organized a session on ‘Authenticity and Sustainability in Tourism in Booming Asian Regions: The Best Practice Example of Kayah State’. Experts shared best practices from the Myanmar tourism project and helped raised awareness among the media, thought leaders, development players and governments on promoting sustainable development in the growing Asian tourism industry.
The panel included UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Mario Hardy, and Willem Niemeijer, Founder and CEO of Khiri Group. The speakers discussed sustainable solutions to dealing with the growth of Asian tourism, which is expected to draw 159 million visitors in 2019.
Mr. Rifai said: ‘UNWTO was pleased to partner with the Government of Myanmar, the Myanmar Tourism Federation and the International Trade Centre in the promotion of Kayah State during ITB Berlin. Kayah State, a region with an outstanding natural and cultural heritage, is a prime example of how tourism can contribute to sustainable development and improve the livelihoods of the local community.’
Myanmar offers an opportunity to demonstrate sustainable tourism, building on the experiences of more mature tourism destinations, such as Thailand and Indonesia. For Kayah State, the objective is to establish a new tourism destination with minimal disruption to the local environment and existing way of life.
Keeping the conversation going
In the following days, ITC supported other events, including a B2B meeting aimed at the private travel trade, a powwow stage event on Kayah State’s newly developed responsible tourism products and a press conference.
Myanmar also won this year’s Golden City Gate Awards with a promotional film on Kayah State, featured by the Berlin-based film director Max Kerkhoff.
Initial successes of the inclusive tourism project, launched in August 2014, include Dutch tour operator SNP recently introducing Kayah State into its programmes. This was done in partnership with Khiri Travel, a destination management company, which in January visited Kayah and experienced the products developed by ITC.
The project, implemented in partnership with the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and Ministry of Commerce, addresses the tourism value chain by overcoming bottlenecks at the community level, extending to tour operators, tourism associations and local and national government institutions, then to the global market, building capacity along the way and bringing players together towards sustainable tourism.
‘This project connects all players in a sustainable manner with the aim of putting Kayah State on the tourism map and generating more income for its people,’ said Marie-Claude Frauenrath, Senior Trade Promotion Officer, ITC Office of Asia and the Pacific.