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Myanmar makes efforts to promote tourism
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Myanmar is making efforts to promote its tourism industry through attending international travel trade shows and introducing the country's attractive tourist sites.

Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board's Marketing Committee has eyed a series of such international events for the two current years to expand its tourism market.

The two events this year which Myanmar focuses are the international tourism expo ITB Asia 2009 scheduled for Oct. 21-23 in Singapore and the " World Travel Market 2009" slated for Nov. 9-12 in London.

Next year's events will include " Fitur 2010" in Feria Fe Madrid and " ATF 2010" in Brunei's Bandar Seri Begawn in Brunei in January, "Bit 2010 " in Fieramilano, Milan in February and "ITB Berlin 2010" in March.

The Myanmar marketing committee (MCC) will extend its tourism market to trade and consumer shows in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the Asia-Pacific region.

The MMC has 81 members comprising five airlines, 28 hotels in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inlay, Ngapali and Ngwe Saung Beach , 39 tour operators and nine tourism related companies.

Aimed at introducing the country's attractive tourist sites and promoting the international tourism market through foreign media, the MMC has planned more domestic package trips to bring international travel agencies and media persons to the country's famous tourist sites such as Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inlay regions in the forthcoming travel season starting next month after the rainy season.

Besides, domestic travel agencies, airlines and hotels are also urged to play their active role in the move for attracting more tourists to the country.

Myanmar's tourism business started to drop near the end of 2007and continued in 2008 which coincided with the deadly cyclone Nargis and the global financial crisis.

Contracted foreign investment in Myanmar's hotels and tourism sector hit 1.049 billion U.S. dollars by the end of March this year since the country opened to foreign investment in late 1988.

According to official statistics, a total of over 260,000 tourists visited Myanmar and the country's tourism industry earned165 million U.S. dollar in 2008.

In addition to international tourism activities, Myanmar has also launched festivals such as culture festival and market festival in famous tourist sites and made fund-raising activities in the second largest city of Mandalay, displaying the country's traditional food stuff, costumes and handicrafts and attaching these events with traditional entertainment programs.

Also as part of its bid to boost cross border tourism with China, the country has granted visa on arrival since February this year for cross-border tourists arriving Myitkyina through chartered flights from Teng Chong international airport, as well as other international airports of China to travel far up to such tourist sites as Yangon, Mandalay, ancient city of Bagan and famous resort of Ngwesaung.

Aimed at drawing more foreign tourists, the country has lifted restriction since early this year on visiting Phakant, one of the six popular areas in Myanmar under gem and jade exploration. The five other areas are Mogok, Mongshu, Khamhti, Moenyin and Namyar.

Myanmar is known as a repository of archaeological regions, ancient edifices and artistic handicraft. It has a variety of tourist attraction such as natural areas of impressive geographical features, protected natural areas, snow-capped mountain and beach resorts.

Rich in natural resources including wildlife and rare species of flora and fauna that attracts tourists, Myanmar is also encouraging entrepreneurs to promote eco-tourism industry at the environmental conservation regions to earn income for the state.

According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, of a total of 652 hotels in the country, 35 are being operated under foreign investment, mostly form Singapore, Thailand, Japan and China's Hong Kong.

Myanmar's tourism season, which is the open season, runs from October to April. The month of April is traditionally highlighted by its water festival which marks Myanmar new year.

(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2009)

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