Myanmar strives for reviving tourism after cyclone

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Myanmar is striving hard for the revival of tourism industry, so as to re-draw attention of foreign tourists despite temporary hardship experienced through the disaster of cyclone.

Noting that Myanmar’s tourism industry is reviving and the country is receiving a growing number of foreign tourists, China’s XINHUA news agency quoted official newspaper the New Light of Myanmar, as stressing on Wednesday the need to take measures for providing tourists with better accommodation, international-level services and smooth transport.

The areas that needed some boost are Bagan, the archaeological hub of the country, and Mandalay, the Inlay region, natural gardens and the regions where new year day commemorative festivals of various national races are held.

The paper, in its editorial, held that responsible persons and private entrepreneurs, engaged in tourism industry, are obliged to work hard together to fulfill all requirements for comfort and convenience of the visitors in a bid to promote Myanmar’s tourism industry.

Myanmar is known as a repository of archaeological regions, ancient edifices and artistic handicrafts. It has a variety of tourist attraction such as natural areas of impressive geographical features, protected natural areas, snow-capped mountain and beach resorts.

Rich in natural resources including wildlife and rare species of flora and fauna that attracts tourists, Myanmar is also encouraging entrepreneurs to promote eco-tourism industry at the environmental conservation regions to earn income for the state.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar authorities has re-designated the net foreign exchange proceeds through tourism business as legal export earning as part of its measures to recover from the severe impact of cyclone Nargis that struck the country last May.

Months after Nargis, tourist arrivals fell 90 percent compared with the previous years correspondingly, statistics indicated.

In a bid to revive its tourism after disaster, Myanmar is planning to introduce a 100-percent visa-on-arrival system starting the coming open season by November and the system will be applicable to international visitors with those of some countries be covered in the pilot phase.

All famous resort hotels lying in three beach areas of Myanmar will reopen next month despite drop of tourist arrivals over the past few months impacted by May cyclone.

Package tour for foreign tourists, arranged by travel companies, has been allowed in Myanmar’s cyclone-torn region to witness post- storm recovery efforts underway there.

Also as part of its efforts to restore tourism operation in the aftermath of the cyclone storm, Myanmar is planning to hold a market festival in Inlay, one of the country’s famous tourist sites in Shan state, according to a local report.

Preparations including upgrading of hotels and restaurants are underway for the two-day market festival scheduled for next February, the Ministry of hotels and Tourism was quoted as saying.

XINHUA also quoted other local reports as saying that an orchid show that features products from Inlay region and its surrounding areas will also be sponsored in the famous tourist site in the same month to pick up tourist arrivals.

Inlay region is known as an area of outstanding natural beauty and famous for its environment and villages in the region sit on floating islands on the lake. Colorful hill tribes inhabit the surrounding fertile valleys and forested mountain tops and their hand-woven silks are a specialty of the region.

In another effort to facilitate local and foreign travelers visiting the tourist site, Myanmar tourism authorities is planning to build an airport at Ngwesaung, a famous beach resort in the country’s southwestern division of Ayeyawaddy.

With a coast of extending as about 14 kilometers, the Ngwesaung stands the nearest beach resort from Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar, attracting a large number of foreign visitors rather than local’s.

The number of tourists coming to Ngwesaung has exceeded that arriving at the 5-kilometer Ngapali beach resort, which lies on Western Rakhine coast near Thandwe and traditionally attracted the largest number of travelers in the past, according to tourism industry circle.

Once the airport is built, the Ngwesaung beach resort will become the second which is accessible by air after Ngapali.

Following Ngapali and Ngwesaung, the 2-kilometer Chaungtha, which is also in the Ayeyawaddy division, stands as the third beach resort in Myanmar that invited large number of visitors.

For the development of Ngwesaung beach resort, the tourism authorities are increasing implementation of hotel projects and other tourism-related infrastructure such as prawn-breeding ponds, the hoteliers noted, adding that the tourism projects in Ngwesaung will create more job opportunities for local people.

According to official statistics, tourist arrivals in Myanmar in the fiscal year 2007-08 which ended in March totalled 288,776, of whom 131,784 came by air, while 154,500 arrived by land across border.

In the first quarter of 2008-09, 51,872 tourist arrivals were registered.

Observers here believed that Myanmar’s tourism industry would become alive again through hardworking and see encouraging future in the sector.

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