Surekha Ragavan
Jan 22, 2019

Meetings in the face of adversity

Aung Lin Htin, country director for Pacific World Myanmar, on positioning Myanmar as a meetings-friendly destination.

Aung Lin Htin
Aung Lin Htin

What’s the biggest challenge for you as a DMC operating in Myanmar?

We get a lot of negative perceptions. And there’s a lack of awareness about what Myanmar can offer. We still need to advertise—most people don’t know Myanmar has good beaches and heritage sites. Transportation is also our challenge. Trains are not reliable. Many overseas companies also cannot buy insurance inside Myanmar so compensation is very limited.

We need to work on three parts of development—human resource development, infrastructure development, and tourism management on how to manage crisis and risks.

How can Myanmar sidestep the negative press?

We are seeing a lot of negative news about Myanmar. I am not in a position to say who is wrong or who is right but every side has their feelings. But Myanmar is quite big, what you see in the news is not reflective of the whole Myanmar. Myanmar is quite safe. Western Myanmar has some issues, but the rest of Myanmar is still okay.

Myanmar has many ethnicities and many of those ethnicities are still in poverty. To solve this problem, we need to promote tourism. Tourism will encourage these people. But now we are on our way to democratisation.

As a DMC, we try to release accurate news to the international community. But we have limitations. For us, we need a HR program for crisis management and also we need to learn how to deliver messages to the international community. For now, we try to release news from private sector as much as we can.

What do you say to travellers who have boycotted Myanmar as a destination in the face of human rights issues?

We have sympathy for people who are suffering. But if you boycott Myanmar, who are you boycotting? It’s not helping. You should take action against some organisations. Your boycott is going to impact poor people and civilians who have got no concern with this issue.

For us, how you can help is to encourage people to go there. You can see the real situation and understand what you can do. As I've mentioned, people in Myanmar have less exposure to foreign community and they need to communicate with more foreigners—and vice versa, more Myanmar people need to travel outside the country. If they have more education, they can help the human rights issues.

How do you see the future of events in Myanmar?

Very positive. We have a lot of destinations. After we recover this challenge, it will improve. 2017 and 2018 were a challenge but this year, we can see some good. We are receiving many inquiries.



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