Offering the opening address at the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Nay Pyi Taw on January 26, a forum that ran parallel with the 18th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers, President U Thein Sein stressed the “significant progress” seen in his country’s tourism industry and its ability to help drive economic growth, according to a report in the Global New Light of Myanmar on January 26.
“Last year, we received over 3 million visitors with an increase of 51 percent. If we continue to maintain the existing growth rate, we expect to receive nearly 4.5 million visitors in 2015. If we can promote more peace, stability and relaxation of travel restrictions for both international and regional tourists, the arrivals in 2105 could increase up to 5 million,” he said.
While the Myanmar president welcomes tourism as a “driving engine for economic growth,” he also pointed out that “it has been associated with the various negative impacts on culture, nature and socio-economic condition of the host country.”Hence, he said, the need for a responsible tourism policy and the involvement of local communities in the industry.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has adopted the Myanmar Tourism Master Plan 2013-2020 with assistance from the government of Norway and the Asian Development Bank, he said.
Such a plan, according to him, “is a roadmap for the sustainable development of Myanmar tourism” and “will maximise tourism contribution to national employment and income generation while ensuring the social and economic benefits of tourism are distributed equitably.”
The parallel ASEAN tourism ministers meeting was chaired by Myanmar’s Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Htay Aung and discussed developments in the tourism industry in the region, including plans for the future as governments look to closer ties under the planned ASEAN Economic Community due to kick off at the end of 2015.