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Myanmar has proven that it was more than ready for the challenge

BY DOMINICK A. MERLE

 

 

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar---This Southeast Asian nation pulled out all the stops at the recent Asean Tourism Forum (ATF), drawing rave reviews from tourism officials, buyers, sellers and media from around the world.

 

 

All agreed that for a country that had remained behind closed doors for decades, this was quite an opening show and predictions were that Myanmar, the former Burma, would soon become one of the hottest tourism tickets around.

 

 

“Our time is now,” said James Thura, general manager of the Sky Palace Hotel where media delegates were housed during the event. “And we are confident and ready.”

 

 

This marked the first time the annual ATF event was held in Myanmar since the inauguration of the ATF in 1981. More than 2500 delegates from 50 countries attended the event which took place Jan. 22-29.

 

 

The venue was the spacious and modern Myanmar International Convention Center. Actually, everything about Nay Pyi Taw is spacious and modern because there was nothing here a few years ago when the government decided to build its new administrative capital here in the center of the country, replacing Yangon.

 

 

Today, there are 20-lane divided highways rimmed by about 65 hotel resorts, a majestic parliament building, modern international airport, government offices, convention centers, shopping centers, hospitals, clinics and recreational facilities.

 

 

It’s a city waiting to be discovered, or, to borrow a line from the movie “Field of Dreams” where a community created a baseball field to attract a team, “If you build it, they will come.” That’s the dream of Myanmar officials---that visitors, convention attendees and businessmen will soon be flocking to Nay Pyi Taw. 

 

 

The ATF is staged annually in alphabetical order in ten nations that comprise the ATF---Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The aim of the ATF is to promote tourism and economic growth in all of the 10 member countries.

 

 

Myanmar has proven that it was more than ready for the challenge. The 2016 event will take place in Manilla.

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