In Focus

A look back on the first Myanmar International Tourism Expo

Photo: Phyo Thiha

Over three days from July 20 to 22, the Tatmadaw Exhibition Hall filled with representatives of tourism businesses from across the region. Over forty businesses including hotel chains, local and international travel and tour companies, regional airlines, booking platforms, wedding and educational services attended. Government tourism boards from India, Thailand, Taiwan and Korea were all represented as well at the Myanmar tourism board and the Union of Myanmar Travel Association.

The first day of the expo saw an opening ceremony attended by U Myint Htwe, Director General of Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism as well as a vice chairman from the Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) and also the vice president of Union of Myanmar Federation Centre of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI).

“Everything is going well so far,” said Mr. Chinakit Viphavakit, general manager of ICVeX, the company which organized the event. Talking to My Magical Myanmar on the afternoon of the first day of the expo he said, “We started with the opening ceremony this morning and this afternoon there will be performances from many countries including Taiwan and Thailand.” Mr. Chinakit said the objective of the event was to create a networking opportunity for businesses from outside of Myanmar to offer their travel and other services to the Myanmar market as well as for Myanmar outbound travel companies to connect with partners in the represented countries.

Organisers also specified that it was an opportunity for customers also to visit information booths from other countries and learn more about opportunities to travel abroad. “The concept of our exhibition is to make a combination of a platform for B2B, business-to-business interaction and also for business-to-end user.” The event expected to attract 700 to 1,000 visitors on the first day Friday July 20th and for that number to rise on the second and third days as those individuals interested in travelling to the represented destinations as well as watching the performances coming at the weekend during their free time.  “We would like to create a networking platform for local Myanmar travel agencies and international tourism organizations, so this exhibition is actually for both inbound and outbound,” said Mr. Chinakit. As well as promoting their own company or organization and making business connections, if personnel from the travel industry have a reason to travel to Myanmar, they can see firsthand what the country has to offer to travellers and what they can expect. “It’s a good chance for Myanmar to show what they have for travellers,” said Mr. Chinakit. For visitors to the event, there was plenty to keep both the young and the old entertained. At the performance area, groups of traditional dancers from Myanmar, four regions of Thailand, Taiwan and Korea all impressed the crowd gathered, perhaps spiking even more interest in visiting the countries represented.

At the Korea Tourism Organisation booth, visitors got a chance to try on the traditional hanbok outfit and snapped photos for social media. Vietnamese airline Vietjet was offering free flights between Myanmar and Vietnam and the Taiwan tourism booth handed out free Taiwanese milk tea. International K-pop group Rose Quartz who have one Myanmar member performed on both the second and third day of the expo. Ms Thazin Min Khaing, Chief Executive Officer of Romantic Wedding Planners Group which had one of the most beautiful booths at the expo, said the company achieved their objective of making connections with some potential clients: “I met some potential clients and also there were a lot of industry players there who visited the expo. It was a great fair.” At a media conference held on Saturday, Mr. Tony Wu, Director of Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s Bangkok office, encouraged Myanmar travellers to visit Taiwan: “Taiwan may be very famous in the world for industry but also Taiwan does a lot to protect the environment and [promote] eco tourism. If you go to Taiwan you can see the diverse species including so many different butterfly species.

Even though Taiwan is a small island, we have more than 200 mountains and some measure over 3,000 metres.” Mr. Wu went on to explain that the visa process is now quite simple for visitors from Myanmar. “Visiting Taiwan these days is a very good choice because it is visa-free for Myanmar citizens who have been to other countries before. If you have not, you can still apply for a visa very easily.”

He emphasized the fact that Taiwan is good for Myanmar travellers because it is not only safe but also offers an experience in the ‘high-speed world’ as well as a futuristic agriculture industry:
“In Taiwan we have big temples and very well preserved culture. It is very safe. You can experience the high-speed world which you don’t have yet in Myanmar. We also have so many forms of agriculture, over 300.

You must know that at Taiwan’s farms we even have meeting rooms and luxury rooms! There are so many different kinds of experience.” According to Mr. Chinakit, the Myanmar International Tourism Expo is set to become an annual event that will get bigger and more comprehensive every year. “I think this exhibition has potential and we would like to develop it and serve the growing tourism industry in Myanmar. People would like to come into this country and more people here like to travel out as well.”

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Marie is copy editor and writer at My Magical Myanmar since 2016. From Ireland but living in Myanmar for the past five years, she specializes in travel writing and hotel and restaurant reviews. Her writing and photography have been published in numerous local as well as major international publications including Al Jazeera and The Irish Times. Her passion lies with exploring unknown destinations and discovering diverse ethnic cuisines."""


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