The government of Myanmar has unveiled plans to spend $500 million on boosting the country's tourism competitiveness, protect the environment and safeguard ethnic communities.
Alongside the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and funding from the Government of Norway, officials wish to implement 38 development projects to make tourism a "pillar" of Myanmar's future economy.
"This master plan outlines a path to welcoming more visitors to Myanmar without threatening our unique cultural heritage or endangering pristine environments," said U Htay Aung, Minister for Hotels and Tourism.
The plan includes strengthening tourism-related training and education, expanding international air arrivals in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, repairing the Bagan river pier to accommodate more cruises and building better transport links to areas including Ngapali beach and Inle Lake.
Myanmar's 1993 Tourism Law will be updated to streamline tourist-based business licensing, and regulations around gaming, tours and labor will be amended. In addition, the plan suggests new tourist police divisions to not only protect visitors, but prevent child trafficking and sex tourism.
If the plans go ahead, the tourism industry could provide up to 1.4 million jobs by 2020, and visitor numbers could swell to 7.5 million in the same year -- contributing over $10 billion to the economy.
Nearly half a million visitors arrived in Myanmar last year. Tourists hailing from Thailand, China, Japan, the U.S. and Korea made up the bulk of air passengers. An additional 465,614 visitors -- mainly on day trips -- arrived over the border.
Read More: Asian Tribune
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