Govt expects more Japanese visitors after visa exemptions

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism expects to attract over 200,000 Japanese visitors to Myanmar following the government’s decision to provide visa exemptions to Japanese tourists, Minister U Ohn Maung said on Saturday.

Also, the ministry appointed Japanese actor Morisaku Win as the country’s “tourism promotion brand ambassador” on Saturday in a bid to attract more young Japanese visitors to Myanmar.

“We have already appointed three Japanese artists, and for this year we selected an energetic young actor to promote our country, so we expect the number of tourists from Japan to double,” U Ohn Maung said.

According to the ministry, over 100,000 Japanese tourists visited Myanmar in 2017, most of them business travellers.

Visa exemptions for Japanese and South Koreans and visas on arrival for tourists from China, Hong Kong and Macau will start on October 1.

“We are also looking to appoint a ‘tourism promotion brand ambassador’ for the South Korea and China markets. Of course, we will not forget Western tourist markets, most of which are still interested in Myanmar,” U Ohn Maung said.

He added that the government will be promoting Myanmar tourism to attract more travellers from European countries at some of the world’s biggest tourism exhibitions this year, such as the World Travel Market in London and ITB Berlin.

‘’We plan promotions in such countries as Spain and Italy, whose citizens have been increasingly coming to our country,” he said, adding that the government needs to explain, advertise and market the different destinations that Myanmar offers.

U Ohn Maung said the government tourism campaign effort would depend on the availability of funds.

“We have an extra K1.1 billion (US$738,428) budgeted for tourism promotion,” he said.

Ichiro Maruyama, Japan’s ambassador to Myanmar, said visa exemptions for Japanese travellers would make many Japanese interested in coming to the country.

“I cannot guess how many Japanese people will come to Myanmar, but I expect more of them to come. We have let the Japanese people know, through both government and public channels, about the visa exemption granted by the Myanmar government,” Maruyama said.

Most Japanese tourists in Myanmar visit such destinations as Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake, but many of them also go to beaches, said U Ye Tun Oo, an executive of Vivo Myanmar, which is a Japanese-based tour company.

Japanese prefer to travel overseas in August and March, but Myanmar promotions usually focus on November to March, so its current marketing strategy is wrong, he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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