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A working week on responsible tourism planning in Myanmar

Taking Responsibility
for Tourism ? A working week on responsible tourism planning in Myanmar

It was back in May that the democratic opposition in Myanmar
announced that it welcomed Responsible Tourism and other forms of tourism based
on respect. When I was asked in November whether I would be willing to travel
to Myanmar to lead a week of workshops and a conference on Responsible
Tourism I enthusiastically accepted. I spent last week in Myanmar arriving and
departing from Yangon via Bangkok and travelling to the new capital Nay Pyi Taw,
only recently opened to foreigners ,this entirely new city boasts 12 lane
highways and monumental buildings, the largest Parliament I have seen; a new
capital reflecting the ambition of its leaders for Myanmar in the C21st.

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism invited all of the
ministries to attend, to hear about Responsible Tourism and to consider what the
contribution of their ministry was to ensuring that tourism in Myanmar becomes
and remains responsible. There was enthusiastic participation by all of the
government staff who came to represent no less than 22 ministries in a day of discussions
about the issues and what individual ministries needed to do to exercise their responsibility
for making tourism sustainable in Myanmar. There is both recognition of the
need for a whole of government approach to the sustainable development of tourism
in Myanmar and enthusiasm in the ministries to play their role, to take and
exercise responsibility.

The private sector workshop also brought a good attendance;
the Myanmar Tourism Board was formed less than a year ago to bring together the
various private sector associations which have emerged to represent the
interests of guides, hotels, agencies and operators. The industry was also enthusiastic
about adopting Responsible Tourism

The concluding conference brought the public and private
sector together to hear reports from each of the workshops. Opened by H. E. U
Tint Hasan, Union Minister Ministry of Hotels and Tourism & Ministry of Sports
and with a welcoming address from Dr Khin Shwe, Chairman of the Myanmar Tourism
Board, there was a meeting of minds between the public and private sector and a
willingness to take responsibility. The quality of the presentations from each
of the workshop days was high. There was recognition of the advantage which Myanmar
had in the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others and to work to
ensure that the host guest encounter in Myanmar continued to be founded upon respect
and the realisation of the ambition to provide ?a Warm Welcome to Tourists and
Take Good Care of Them.?

The Deputy Minister, H E U Htay Aung,  in his closing remarks said that ?the mission
was accomplished, we did it and we succeeded? adding as he spoke to the public
and private   ?if you don?t want to change you cannot
succeed.?

The Nay Pyi Taw Responsible Tourism Statement on Taking Responsibility
for Tourism is available on line

The statement concludes that there are two priorities the
development of a Responsible Tourism Policy and Strategy for the next couple of
years, this to be followed by the development of a Responsible Tourism Master Plan;
and a capacity building, in vocational and Higher Education and perhaps most
urgently Continuing Professional Development at Masters level for this in the public
and private sectors and in education, whose challenge it is to achieve the
aspiration for Responsible Tourism Planning in Myanmar.

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