Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Yangon to use part of its own budget to promote tourism: official

The Yangon Region government is considering plans to dip into the regional budget for the first time to fund growth of the tourism industry, Yangon Region Minister for Hotels and Tourism Daw Naw Pan Thinzar Myo revealed.

“In other regions and states, some K200million in funds from local budgets was spent on promoting tourism. Based on Yangon’s population, the spending will be around that amount,” said Daw Naw Pan Thinzar Myo.

The regional government will also take action to improve the tourism sector by cracking down on unlicensed tour operators and tour guides, and zero-dollar tourism this year, she said, adding that working committees made up of the relevant officials have already been formed for the effort.

In addition to exploring and developing new tourist destinations in Yangon Region, there are several plans to resolve littering problem in areas frequented by tourists and ensure clean and adequate toilets. The overall cost to promote the tourism industry has is in the midst of being calculated, she said.

“Using part of the regional budget is better than leaving the funds unspent, but the money needs to be used effectively. Instead of spending on weekend markets, funds should also be used for inspecting unlicensed tour operators, and cleaning and sanitation in particular. Despite forming committees, no work has been seen on the ground, perhaps due to budget constraints,” said Ko Than Naing, executive committee member of the Myanmar Tourist Guides Association.

Suggestions have been made to conduct surprise checks on tourist buses leaving the airport to see if they are observing rules and regulations and using local guides as part of efforts to curb zero-dollar tourism in Yangon. The government can also inspect hotels and tourist areas frequented by zero-dollar tours to ensure local guides are being used, Ko Than Naing said. During a meeting of the Yangon Region Tourism Committee held on December 16, it was revealed that the hotels and tourism sector drew investments totalling US$238 million (K350 billion) from May to mid-December 2019.

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