How will Myanmar be able to further widen its tourism in the region?
This is our enquiry of the week in our new Weekly Eco-Burma Round-up.
During the last weeks of our roundup, we have shed light on the tourism boom in Burma and how to make it sustainable. This time, let’s discuss the economic repercussions of the boom.
Since Burma’s political changes last year and its opening to more and more travelers, one of the country’s biggest issues is the lack of adequate infrastructure to manage mass tourism, which led to a huge increase in prices.
To solve such difficulties and make the high hotel prices fall again, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has introduced a price cap of US=$150 per room per night for hotels under its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) scheme. If this rate is not respected, penalties will be imposed.
This seems to be a needed step in order to control some opportunistic practices of these hotels and to ensure that travel companies do not cancel their tours to Burma, frightened by a possible quick increase in room rates without prior notice.
Encouraging news is Burma’s determination make phone and Internet accessible to the masses. “We have started working on a reform plan to provide telecommunications services to the people at an international standard and at a cheap price,” said Thein Tun, Burma’s Post and Telecommunication Minister.
Communication is always one of the key ways to broaden a country’s development and economy. In Burma, it would open the market to foreign businesses wanting to be involved in the country’s huge growth potential and drive international investment there. But local industries must also benefit from the perking up of the economy.
Worries in Thailand
How will Myanmar fare against its neighbors? “Thai Tourism ‘at risk’ from Myanmar travel boom” declares the Bangkok Post.
“The tourism sector will be revived” (LIEN) proudly said U Htay Aung, Myanmar’s deputy tourism minister. Tourism will awaken thanks to progressive reforms and restructuring of the economy. This could lead to Thailand losing tourists. Inconsistent policies from Thailand’s government which mean that businesses and tourists don’t enjoy any advantages by going there, a high rate of corruption, and acts of violence should be also blamed.
On the other hand and from a more positive view, the Phuket Gazette asserts that “the emergence of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the opening-up of neighboring country Burma will generate more high-yield visitors for Thailand”. Indeed, at present, Burma is having difficulty promoting its MICE industry (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions)—a particular type of tourism that concerns large groups brought together for a specific purpose—it will need to rely on the help from neighbors such as Thailand. Burmese businesses will come there to attend exhibitions, both as buyers and sellers. However, we should not delude ourselves if the situation in Thailand remains the same as now.
An article in Travel Wire Asia portrays some charming and perhaps relatively unknown treasures of Burma: the beautiful crafts practiced there.
Lacquerware carved into boxes or cups, marionettes, sculpted images of the Buddha, wall tapestries or even silk scarves could make excellent gifts and memories of your journey.
Moreover, it is an excellent way of supporting the Burmese culture and locals!
Last but not least, a tilt-shift film, shot by Joerg Daiber in Rangoon (Yangon), Kalaw, Inle Lake, Mandalay and Bagan in Burma (Myanmar). Watch full-screen and enjoy!