Imagine in November looking down the airport runway, maybe in New York, or Berlin, as snow gently drifts to the ground. The engine roars lifting 400 people up into the sky. What does it take to ensure the 747 lands in Yangon? That’s the discussion of a Myanmar Tourism Marketing think-tank seeking to ensure that Myanmar is positioned to capture a larger slice of the tourist market post Covid-19.
“We are being presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity. Can we seize this moment in time to showcase Myanmar as an unparalleled destination; Bagan and snorkelling in the Mergui Archipelago?” asked Sammy Samuels, Myanmar Tourism Marketing (MTM) and panel moderator.
“How can we rebrand Myanmar Travel?” is the question put by the MTM in an open online discussion on Wednesday 13th May at 1pm.
For the first time, ever, MTM will hold a panel discussion in English.
For all of us who have revealed in the vibrance of Myanmar, been overwhelmed by the beauty of Inle Lake, the MTM is calling for your help to brainstorm how to make Myanmar an irresistible destination. Travel agents, expats, everyone is welcome.
Just 760,000 lonely travelers wandered along the Myanmar tourist trail a decade ago. In 2019 that figure had reached a staggering 4.354 million.
“The flourishing industry is an invaluable investment, with Foreign Direct Investment in Myanmar in 2019 around US$ 4.4 billion, tourism representing around 3.5% of GDP” said Suki Singh, Vice President Operations Myanmar, GCP Hospitality, who operate 39 hotels and services apartment and MTM panel expert.
This year Covid-19 has decimated the travel industry. April 2020 will experience an estimated 86% decrease in tourism revenue, a devastating blow for workers and businesses.
“The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labor-intensive sectors of the economy”, said Zurab Pololikashvili, General Secretary, World Tourism Organization.
“Tourism is not just about hotels, airlines, tour agencies, there are tour guides, restaurants and other tourism-related sectors involved as well. Tourism supports an estimated 800,000 jobs in Myanmar”, said Singh.
Government in countries where Covid-19 has plateaued are starting to permit small movements of people, yet there are few nations brave enough to consider opening international borders.
“We are hoping by October 2020 there will be a gradual build up with airlines slowly resuming flights,” said Singh. However, how quickly will depend on how robust the economy is in these unstable times.
The remaining unknown is how Covid-19 will change our behavior as travelers?
“Gone are the days of short international travel, or long trips visiting multiple countries”, reported the World Economic Forum as travelers fear being caught in quarantine on their holiday of a lifetime.
Where will travelers feel safe? In New York or the crowded streets of Prague – maybe not, but would travelers consider the UNESCO site at Bagan which welcomes just 660,000 annually?
Here lies an extraordinary opportunity for Myanmar.
“Myanmar Tourism Marketing is working closely with Ministry and stakeholders developing a new strategy for rebranding – the re-launching of Myanmar as a destination for a Post-Covid-19 world,” said May Myat Mon Win, MTM Chairperson.
“It could be an exciting time and we welcome everyone to join us on Wednesday to be part of developing a new and fresh strategy to showcase Myanmar as a must-see destination in 2021,” said Samuels.
Panel Members: Suki Singh, Vice President Operations Myanmar, GCP Hospitality; Phillip Couvaras, GM of Shangri La Hotel Yangon; Edwin Briels: MD of Khiri Travel Myanmar; Bertie Alexander Lawson: MD of Sampan Travel and Panel Moderator: Sammy Samuels, MTM.
First published: Myanmore