Tourism to fuel Myanmar's development: UNWTO

19 May 2012  745 | World Travel News

TOURISM in Myanmar will become a ‘success story’ and important job-creation vehicle, said the head of UNWTO during a visit last week, as he announced that the country was seeking to rejoin the international body.

“(Myanmar president U Thein Sein) informed me that Myanmar was very keen to rejoin UNWTO. This will open the door to so many other things, such as creating jobs, infrastructure, trade, investment – all these are part of tourism,” said UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai.

“In the case of Myanmar, we are very optimistic. The country has tremendous natural and environmental (qualities). It is also located in a region that is booming. We feel that (together) we can achieve a tourism success story in Myanmar.”

During the visit, Rifai held discussions with Thein Sein and Myanmar’s Minister for Hotels & Tourism, U Tint Hsan, on ways in which UNWTO could help Myanmar’s tourism industry develop.

“We discussed … specific plans on how to move forward on important issues, such as education and training, promotion and branding, and sustainable development,” said Rifai, adding that Thein Sein was particularly interested in training and human resource development.

“(Thein Sein) asked for UNWTO to send a special team to assess how to upgrade the curriculum and teaching standards at tourism-focused education institutions (in Myanmar),” he said.

“The second most important (issue discussed) was promotion. We think that Myanmar must have a strong brand like all the other Asian destinations.”

Meanwhile, UNWTO has thrown its weight behind Myanmar’s bid to get Bagan listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. “It’s time to do that and we must do it very quickly,” said Rifai, adding that the ancient capital was a “fantastic open museum”.

Sourced: TTG Asia