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Myanmar to rejoin UNWTO


Published on May 14, 2012

Reforming country’s president commits to “smokeless” tourism development following meeting with Taleb Rifai...

Myanmar has announced plans to rejoin the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The country’s President, U Thein Sein, announced the move during an official visit to Myanmar by the UNWTO’s Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, who said the UNWTO would support Myanmar’s eff orts to develop its tourism industry. “Myanmar is a country abundant in natural and cultural resources; the foundation of any tourism sector,” said Rifai. “Following talks with the Minister of Hotels, Tourism & Sport, U Tint San, UNWTO will lend its expertise in a number of areas, ranging from capacity-building to sustainable tourism practices and travel facilitation, to responsibly develop tourism for the benefi t of all.” President Sein said that tourism should be considered a “smokeless industry” and one that “boosts growth, creates job opportunities, conserves the environment and helps to maintain traditional arts and crafts”. “Given the political support for tourism demonstrated today, Myanmar is set to significantly enhance its tourism sector over the coming years,” said Rifai. “At the same time, the international community has been greatly encouraged by recent reforms in Myanmar and this will no doubt be reflected in an increasing numbers of tourists.” According to offi cial data, tourist arrivals at Myanmar’s main air gateway, Yangon International Airport, exceeded 359,000 in 2011, but this fi gure is expected to surge to 1.5 million in 2012. Myanmar also recently announced plans to reintroduce visa-on-arrival facilities at Yangon airport. The UNWTO’s long-term forecast shows that international tourist arrivals to Asia Pacifi c will increase from 204 million in 2010 to 535 million in 2030. “Asia and the Pacifi c is the future powerhouse of global tourism and Myanmar is in a strategic position to receive a signifi cant share of these arrivals,” said Rifai.

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