THE ASEAN-Japan Centre (AJC), in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization, has set in motion an exchange programme to help Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos sharpen their cultural and heritage appeal in a bid to encourage greater Japanese traveller interest in these ASEAN destinations.
The programme is the first of many aimed at developing products these destinations are rich in, noted AJC’s director of Tourism & Exchange Division, Dananjaya Axioma.
“We have taken a group consisting of tourism academicians and heritage management (personnel) from the three countries on a fam trip to Japan in November last year,” Axioma said, adding that participants attended a workshop and training seminar in Tokyo and site inspections of cultural and heritage attractions in Nara.
The activities are also expected to guide Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos in managing attractions with cultural and historical value.
“Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are already major destinations for Japanese outbound to ASEAN (so) we have to work with stakeholders of these three countries to find ways to increase Japanese arrivals,” said Axioma.
Following these activities, participants are expected to develop and implement relevant programmes for selected cultural and heritage sites.
However, AJC has yet to meet with the working groups of Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos to obtain updates and discuss the next step forward.
Expressing support for the initiative, Union of Myanmar Travel Association chairman, Aung Myat Kyaw, told the TTG Asia e-Daily: “Japan is one of the main markets Myanmar is keen to develop.”
Although Japanese arrivals to Myanmar is still a minute figure, it grew 123 per cent between 2011 and 2012. Aung believes that product improvements will raise traveller interest.
In 2012, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar welcomed 179,000, 42,000 and 47,600 Japanese respectively.
Read more from ATF 2014 in TTG Official Show Daily – ATF 2014