Not enough facilities for tourists in Burma, says official

Chairman of newly formed Myanmar (Burma) Tourism Board said the country’s tourism facilities currently can only provide services to 300,000 tourists.

“During the open (non-raining) season, we won’t be able to control them if there are more. There are only around three hundred thousand visitors with us currently,” said Khin Shwe, who is also the CEO of Zaykabar company and a member of parliament.

“Even with three hundred thousand visitors, our services are insufficient. As it is, we will be in trouble if five hundred thousands or a million turn up. Even facilities in Rangoon are not sufficient. If we let them in with this state, it will be like an act of self-humiliation.”

The board oversees 11 business associations including hotel owners, health and general services, tourism schools, hotel staff, tourist guides, and restaurant owners associations.

“The board controls everything including licenses and so on. And it works with the (government) ministry. The ministry will be in a stronger position if it works with a big NGO (non-governmental organization), rather on its own. There are many restrictions in the ministry.”

Khin Shwe added the board aims to raise the quality of services and facilities for its members and other businesses relating to tourism industry by providing courses and expanding hotel zones. It is made up of 25 executives and 60 central committee members.

Only more than 300,000 people visited Burma in 2010, compared to one million in neighbouring Laos, over two millions in Cambodia and four millions in Vietnam.

Burmese authorities began issuing visas on arrival for all nationalities at Rangoon and Mandalay international airports at the beginning of May. But those who are blacklisted by the government will still be denied the visa.

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