Travel Update’s introduction to Myanmar is a derelict commercial airline in front of our hotel’s restaurant, an eight-lane highway, white elephants (not the concrete ones we see in the Philippines and some other countries, rather albino elephants), and a humongous pagoda.
There is much optimism about Myanmar’s hosting the ASEAN Tourism Forum, now underway in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar’s capital city since 2005. After President Thein Sein welcomed more than 1,200 buyers and sellers during last night’s opening ceremony, travel industry players believe the presence of the president reveals the importance the Burmese government has put on tourism as part of the country’s historic reforms.
“When we look at the Myanmar Tourism Sector, 2012 marked a tourism milestone for Myanmar as the country welcomed over a million tourists for the first time. We saw another milestone with visitor numbers reaching 2.04 million in 2013 with an increase of 93.04 percent. Last year, we received over 3 million visitors with an increase of 51 percent,” said the Myanmar president.
Myanmar’s famous city destinations include Yangon and Mandalay. From the survey made by organizers, most buyers indicated high interest on what Myanmar has to offer.
ATF is on its 34th year of promoting tourism destinations and products of the 10-member ASEAN on an annual one-country, one-member showcase. The event will run until January 29 and includes a half-day conference and a two-day B2B travel exchange for 300 buyers and more than 900 sellers of travel and tourism products.
The Philippines will be the host of ATF next year.