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Five Shan towns to be promoted as tourism cities

Five towns in Shan State have been designed as tourism cities with the aim of improving Myanmar tourism in the post-COVID-19, said U Soe Nyunt Lwin, Shan State Planning and Finance minister. A tourism master plan has taken into account the “new normal” in Shan. Under the plan, the country will promote tourism under government-to-government agreement. The five tourism cities include Kalaw, Nyaung Shwe, Kyaing Tong, Lashio and Thibaw.

The plan will encourage local and foreign travelers to learn about ethnic people’s cultures through literature, music, the arts, food and handicrafts. A K100 million budget and five percent of the Inle Lake Fund will be used annually to promote Shan hotels and tourism. More money will have to be spent for tourism in the post-COVID-19 period for the sake of regional development. As part of the effort, they have asked the Ministry of Defense to allow foreign travelers to use the road that connects eastern and southern Shan. A package tour of Kalaw and Nyaung Shwe towns via Kyaing Tong is also planned.

Travelers from Thailand can visit Kalaw and Inle in eastern Shan. Kyaing Tong will be promoted for its scenic beauty and as a jumping-off point for eco-tours of the surrounding countryside. The China and Thailand markets will be targeted during the remainder of the government’s term after the elections. In Nawngcho township, the first glass bridge in Myanmar will be built soon. Kalaw and Taunggyi cities have received tourism awards, and Taunggyi, capital of Shan, was also recognized for having the highest oxygen concentration in ASEAN.

Source: Myanmar Times

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Tourism firms should be recognized for complying with COVID-19 guidelines

Local tourism businesses that have complied with COVID-19 safety guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports should be officially recognized for doing so, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said during the celebration of World Tourism Day 2020 held on September 25. Vice president U Henry Van Thio suggested that firms in the travel industry focus on community-based tourism packages to capture new demand when the industry resumes again.

As such, being recognized as safe and compliant with the government measures will be advantageous for firms when the tourism industry resumes again. With international flights suspended and the global tourism industry likely to take anywhere between two and eight years to recover, based on the World Trade Organization’s forecast, Myanmar can no longer rely on foreign tourists to boost the industry tourism entrepreneurs agreed with the vice president’s suggestion to leverage on domestic and community-based tourism in Myanmar.

“During this period, the tour companies are facing their most challenging times. Some tour firms have even changed their business lines for survival”, said U Naung Naung Han, chair of Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneur Association. The number of tourists to Myanmar has declined by 65 percent since the first half of the year, data showed.

Source: Myanmar Times

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Myanmar extend int’l flight suspension until October 31

The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has released an announcement on September 24 notifying all international airlines that the previous temporary measures, dated 26 August, have been extended until 31 October 11:59 pm.

The decision was made by the COVID-19 prevention committee in order to continue to effectively control the importation of COVID-19 to Myanmar through air travel. The extension comes after the country began to experience a high resurgence in COVID-19 cases, currently ranking fifth in ASEAN.

The country formally stopped all international commercial flights from landing since March 30, a week after the first cases of COVID-19 were detected. This is the fourth time the measures have been extended. The department first announced on April 12 that measures will be extended until April 30, second one until August 31 was announced on July 28, and the third one until September 30 on August 26.

Source: Myanmar Times

<p>Tourists riding bull carts travel along a road across an ancient Buddhist temple in Bagan on July 5, 2019. (Photo by Ye Aung THU / AFP)</p>

Myanmar tourism sector asks government to delay tax hike

Travel and tourism companies in Myanmar are asking the government for additional tax relief to tie through the rest of the year. Last week, the Myanmar Travel Association submitted a letter to the Ministry of Planning and Industry seeking an extension of time to furnish required evidence before tax rates on undisclosed sources of income are raised at the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.Under the 2020 Union Tax Law, taxes on undisclosed sources of income of up to K100 million will double to 6 percent. The rates will be raised progressively until a maximum of 30pc on unassessed income above K3 billion.

Many small tourism businesses are unable to furnish the required evidence and documentation on time and are asking for the existing 3pc tax rate to be retained until at least next year. The higher tax rates at this time will place an additional burden on tourism companies which are now unable to operate with overseas travelers banned and domestic tourism at a standstill once again amid a fresh wave of local transmitted COVID-19 cases. Most of the travel and tourism companies are demanding that the government extend the timeline required to furnish the needed documents until next year. Travel companies are in a very tough situation now.

The Internal Revenue Department has been reviewing the income sources of local businesses since August 17 and will continue to do so until September 30. Even though the government has been providing one-year loans at an interest rate of 1pc to the tourism industry under the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP), many have been left out. The Myanmar Tourism Strategic Recovery Roadmap 2021-2025 will be drawn by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism together with the Luxemburg Development Cooperation Agency. Key strategies in the five-year plan include human resource development across the various types of tourism business in Myanmar.

Source: Myanmar Times

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Tourist arrival drops in Myanmar by 65 pc as of July 2020

The tourist arrival in Myanmar has dropped by 65 per cent from January to July 2020 because of the global coronavirus outbreak, according to the data released by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.Myanmar received a total of 852,432 foreign visitors in the first seven months of 2020, a decreaseof 1.6 million visitors. The same period of last year, the number of tourists who entered the country stood at 2.4 million, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

As of July 2020, a total of 324,329 tourists arrived in Myanmar via the international airports, 889 tourists came to the country via cruise liners, and 40,415 tourists entered through land borders with visa. Besides, 486,799 tourists entered Myanmar via the border crosses.The number of tourist arrival by flights declined by 67 per cent, by ships declined by 85 per cent, by land borders with visa declined by 43 per cent and by cross-border passes declined by 66 percent.Last years, the majority of visitors were from China followed by Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Viet Nam. Citizens of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain also visited Myanmar.

This year, the foreign visitors stopped travelling and lost 72 per cent from China, 63 per cent from Thailand, 72 per cent from South Korea, 72 per cent from Singapore and 68 per cent from Viet Nam.Tourists have cancelled their trips, and the national airline flights have also suspended their operations as the coronavirus has spread around the world. The countries have also denied visas to the tourists.Myanmar tourism sector like that of other countries around the world has been severely affected by the pandemic. Myanmar welcomed 4.6 million tourists in 2015, 2.91 million in 2016, 3.44 million in 2017, 3.55 million in 2018, and 4.4 million in 2019.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

Myanmar govt’s plan to promote local tourism clashes with COVID-19 preventative measures

The government has launched a plan to boost local tourism as international tourists remain locked out of the country due to commercial flight restrictions, this has clashed with its efforts to control COVID-19. On July 30, several famous pagodas in Bagan banned travelers from visiting 17 famous pagodas due to “health concerns.”This was despite local having already booked their transport and accommodation. Meanwhile, famous beaches in Ayeryawady like Ngwe Saung and Chaung Tha remained off-limits to visitors during that weekend, with travelers being advised that COVID-19 inspections were yet to be complete in the area.

The decision to reopen famous tourist destinations as part of the government’s tourism recovery plan will be made by the Central COVID-19 Committee. While precautions are necessary in managing the pandemic domestically, tourism businesses say they are unable to resume operations even though the government has pledged support for the sector. The majority of local agencies have suspended their operations while just a few are providing booking services for air ticket and hotel rooms. Many tour operators expect the Myanmar tourism industry to bounce back only next year.

The majority of locals are expected to travel mainly for religious reasons and during long weekends for relaxation purposes, local travel and tourism firms. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism will start conducting a survey on domestic travelers in an effort to support and improve the sector. The online survey includes 18 questionnaires related to the spending power, duration of travel and lodging preferences of local travelers.

Source: Myanmar Times

MNA cancels flights to Singapore until June 1 | Myanmar Business Today

Myanmar National Airlines suspends international flights until August 31

MNA cancels flights to Singapore until June 1 | Myanmar Business Today

The Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) announced on July 23 that it will extend the temporary suspension of all its international flights( Singapore, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hong Kong) until August 31, in order to cooperate with ongoing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The airline will offer full refunds or free flight changes to its passengers. The announcement also states that all flight all flights will resume on September 1.

Myanmar has reported a total of 343 COVID-19 cases including six deaths and 282 recoveries as at 8pm on July 24. The most recent cases detected over the past several weeks have been from returnees who are undergoing facility quarantines.

The government and Department of Civil Aviation have yet to issue official announcements on an extension of the existing July 31 flight ban. However, the government is also making arrangements to form “fast lanes” through which those who wish to return on urgent business can contact their embassy for special arrangements. These agreements will start with Japan and China and be extended to other countries later.

Source:Myanmar Times

Bagan temple climbing off-limits as city named Unesco site | The ...

MoHT conducting tourism relief plans for post-coronavirus era

Bagan temple climbing off-limits as city named Unesco site | The ...

MYANMAR’S tourism industry is implementing relief plans for recovery of the sector during the post-corona virus era new normal.The State allowed the hotel and motel businesses to apply for the loan in order to remedy those businesses hardly stricken by the pandemic impacts.

The regional directorate submitted reports of the frequency of
hotels, capitals and tax payment conditions and business operation plans during the coronavirus period. The Union of Myanmar Federations of Chamber of Commerce and Industry granted K35 to 60 million loans depending on the situations. In addition to this, plans for training courses for those employees related to the tourism industry, paying an allowance of K4,800 per day, have been undertaken.

The move is aimed to support those stakeholders including three-wheel riders, horse-cart riders, motorboat operators and vendors and to share the basic tourism awareness. The hotels and tourism industry braced a 40-per cent drop in March, 70 per cent in April, and a complete halt in May and June. Some hotels and motels were allowed for reopening in June-end. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has been conducting tourism relief plans to restart the industry.

Source:The Global New Light of Myanmar

Minbu - Tourism Myanmar

Hotel zone to be established near Shwesettaw

Minbu - Tourism Myanmar

The plan is underway to implement a hotel zone project. The project is a part of ecotourism development and the hotel zone will be near Shwesettaw pagoda’s precinct in Minbu district.

The environment of forests, mountains and land near Shwesettaw remains intact. Authorities have already granted permission to implement the hotel zone with the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. The relevant departments are coordinating to draw the map.

After drawing the map, they will design the structure of the hotel zone as to where the forest will be, where the lake will be and the hotel will be built on how many acres of land etc.They will get the guidelines from the regional government and invite the investment companies and private entrepreneurs. The ecotourism project will be based in nature, elephant camps, Shwesettaw wildlife sanctuary, the high standard hotels and motels and bamboo houses. It is aimed to attract not only the local travellers but also the foreign travellers.

The Hotel zone to be established coffee farming, organic farming, the custom of local residents, local products and foods can attract the outside visitors. The project is expected to start implementing in February 2021 before the Shwesettaw pagoda festival.

Source:The Global New Light of Myanmar