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Myanmar to launch Kayah State as tourist destination at World Travel Market 2016

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A little-visisted region of Myanmar is to be launched as a new tourist destination at the World Travel Market 2016, an important tourism trade fair, in London between 7 and 9 November. The launch of Kayah State as a tourist destination is the result of a collaboration between the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Myanmar Tourism Marketing (MTM). 

Recent political and economic changes in Myanmar have seen the country become popular with foreign tourists, with five million international visitors in 2015. Kayah State, which is now accessible by air and road, has only recently opened to visitors. Its natural landscape and ethnic diversity provide tourists with an insight into authentic local villages and traditional ways of life. Guests can follow the ‘trail of the ancestors’, with local villagers as guides, and sample local cuisine at a ‘jungle picnic’. 

Since 2014, the International Trade Centre (ITC), in partnership with the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the Ministry of Commerce, has supported the development of new cultural and nature tourism products in Kayah State. Local government and communities in Kayah State have been assisted in their preparations for the arrival of international tourists, while respecting local culture and the environment. 

ITC’s Inclusive Tourism project in Myanmar aims to contribute to reducing poverty by creating jobs in the country’s tourism sector with a focus on Kayah State. The project increases incomes of enterprises and local communities by enhancing the competitiveness of Myanmar’s tourism industry and related supply chains, ultimately contributing to sustainable economic development.

Through the project, supported by the Government of the Netherlands, new tourism services, such as cultural and community tours will be introduced. These will offer tourists a glimpse into the lives, cultural practices and traditions of the local ethnic communities. Cultural performances, the production of handicrafts and cooking demonstrations will all showcase the rich heritage of the people of Kayah State.

Tour operators will be encouraged to improve their businesses to meet the international standards of visiting tourists. The project includes training sessions for 25 tour operators to help them to become familiar with European and Asian markets, and to enable them to acquire practical skills on export marketing, promotion and management. 

Local craftsmen and women, and food producers will also benefit from training on quality, design, packaging and sanitary measures.

An important feature of the project is strengthening the tourism-related institutional infrastructure in Kayah State. As part of this, the Union of Myanmar Travel Association and Myanmar Tourism Marketing will both receive support from ITC, and Kayah State’s trade support institutions (TSIs) will be assisted in enhancing the quality of services and support they offer small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

The project will help to strengthen the local government’s ability to integrate tourism planning into its policies through public-private partnerships that support local SMEs and producers in business networking. It will also create and strengthen business linkages for local producers and tour operators by integrating them into existing tourism value chains. 

ITC will also facilitate the promotion of Kayah State at trade fairs and events, linking up tourism enterprises in Myanmar with outside tour operators who wish to add Kayah State to their itineraries.