Photo 1：The forum.
Photo 2：A Yunnan-themed photo exhibition at the forum.
“I paid an 8-day visit to Myanmar in August 2016 and I was deeply impressed by the river-side sceneries of the Irrawaddy, the sunset at the U Bein Bridge and the good manners of Myanmar people,” said Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy.
Dai Bin said this at the first China(Yunnan)-Myanmar tourism cooperation forum in Nay Pyi Taw on March 1-2, and his words were greeted by a big applause from the audience.
Neighbors need more visits
Similar expressions on traveling experience were frequently heard at the forum: “I have been to Shangri-la in Yunnan” and “I visited Bagan of Myanmar in 2014”.
Since June 2001, Myanmar has been an outbound destination for Chinese tourists, with close coordination carried out in tourism market cultivation, the Mekong tourism development and cross-border tourism.
China is currently the second biggest tourist source for Myanmar tourism, and most Chinese travel to Myanmar via Yunnan Province.
“Yunnan and Myanmar have opened 8 cross-border tourist routes. With the launch of the Kunming-Yangon, Kunming- Nay Pyi Taw and Kunming-Mandalay direct flights, the number of two-way visits has been on the rise,” said Wen Shuqiong, deputy director of Yunnan Provincial Tourism Development and Reform Commission.
Thanks to the annual China-Myanmar paukphaw carnival and cross-border fairs, Yunnan-Myanmar tourism authorities, societies and companies have maintained closed communication. Wen added that Yunnan expects to cooperate with Myanmar in cross-border tourism and inter-city tourism.
Visits need more convenience
“China is a big tourist source for Myanmar, and we expected more visitors will come to Myanmar via Yunnan Province,” said U Aung Aye Han, deputy director general of Directorate of Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
Li Weizeng, deputy secretary general of Yunnan’s Baoshan Municipal Government, said the Tengchong-Myitkyina cross-border tourist route was opened in 2008. “Since a tourist certificate office was set up in Tengchong in 2013, Baoshan City has received 10,091 cross-border tourists.” Li also suggested that the two sides should simplify procedures at the check points, while trying to set up the Tengchong cross-border tourism pilot area.
Lv Jiang, deputy secretary general of Yunnan’s Lincang Municipal Government, said three tourist routes between the Qingshui River and Myanmar localities were opened in June 2016, and the routes attracted over 1,000 cross-border tourists in 13 batches.
In a themed discussion, Yunnan Tourism-Planning Academy president Fan Dehua suggested that the Yunnan cities of Kunming, Jinghong and Ruili should cooperate deeply with the Myanmar cities of Yongan, Mandalay and Bagan.
Fan’s idea was echoed by a Yangon tourism representative named U Ohn Myint: "To further inter-city tourism cooperation, cheaper and more direct flights are needed to draw investment and reduce cost. Yangon expects to cooperate with Chinese cities in this.”
Convenience brings more cooperation
"Many Myanmar tourism enterprises headquartered in Yangon and other southern Myanmar cities lack good Chinese tour guides, and this is a headache for us because it restricts the tourism cooperation," said Vivian, general manager of the Myanmar VICO tourism company.
For her trouble, Wen Shuqiong shared China’s experience in setting up qualification tests for tour guides using foreign languages, adding that Yunnan Tourism Vocational College can offer tourism training to Myanmar workers.
Vivian has tapped Yunnan tourism market for more than a year, and she has confidence in the tourism market in Yunnan. Now, she is on a Chinese learning program and speaks Chinese as often as possible.
Actually, many Myanmar tourism companies provided their publicity materials in the Chinese language at the forum. Song Yunpeng, head of a Yunnan international travel service company, said he noticed many business opportunities at the forum. He will think about how to seize the opportunities and cooperate with Myanmar.
Yang Chunhe, director of a tourism institute based in Yunnan Agricultural University, said that during the visit he saw the virtues of Myanmar people. He has more confidence in agricultural and technological cooperation with Myanmar.
Chinese reporting by Han Chengyuan & Cao Yunbo; Trans-editing by Eric Wang