Programme profile

NTF - Inclusive tourism, Myanmar

Programme Index Listing

Main implementer
International Trade Centre (ITC)
The Netherlands
2014 - 2021
Total budget
US $4.8 million (phase III and IV)
Annual budget
US $900,000

Project description / objective

To enhance the Myanmar tourism industry as a way out of poverty.

The project addresses the whole tourism value chain. It looks at bringing all stakeholders together to achieve sustainable tourism by overcoming bottlenecks at each point of the tourism value chain from:

  • product development
  • market linkages
  • destination branding

The project worked initially in Kayah State and is currently extending into the Tanintharyi region and continuing activities at national level.

Market system focus

The tourism sector was chosen from seven export priority sectors identified under the National Export Strategy (NES) elaborated by the Ministry of Commerce, with technical assistance provided by ITC.

ITC conducted a feasibility study on the potential of the destinations and the feasibility of an ITC inclusive tourism project.

Tanintharyi stood out as the destination with most potential. Tanintharyi has relevant revenue generation potential because of its pristine beaches and easy accessibility both from the capital Yangon (by flight) and from Thailand (three border crossing open to tourists).

Programme interventions

National and state Government

In the earlier phase the project helped partners to develop and implement a marketing and branding strategy. In collaboration with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MOHT), as well as its Kayah branch, benefited from support in tourism data collection and statistics.

The project is now training and coaching the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MOHT) on the basics of tourism statistics and the set-up of an Inter-Institutional Platform among stakeholders involved in gathering tourism statistics. Marketing and branding activities will continue with a focus on regional marketing, especially digital.

National and state tourism associations

The project has closely collaborated with the Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) and the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association (MTM). At state level it has strengthened local tourism-related associations. It facilitated the set-up of a Kayah Public Private Dialogue Platform.

At national level the project will continue working with UMTA and MTM. At state level ITC will coach and mentor tourism and tourism-related associations, both in Kayah and Tanintharyi.

Product development in Kayah and in Tanintharyi

The project works to increase the trade competitiveness of tourism-related suppliers of goods and services.

Cultural tourism tours have been developed in Kayah state in close collaboration with the local government and tour operators.

The project will consolidate results in Kayah to make it a reference centre for inclusive tourism development. It will develop new tourism products in Tanintharyi Region including:

  • cultural tourism tours
  • creative tourism activities
  • community-based tourism activities

Tourism service providers will be trained to increase the quality of services sold through tour operators and directly to individual tourists.

Market linkages

Business linkages will be facilitated and established both within Myanmar and with the international tourism market.

ITC will focus on specific marketing activities (e.g.conferences, promotional events, B2Bs, regional digital marketing) for the new products developed in Kayah and Tanintharyi region.

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)

The NTF III project has built skills across the tourism value chain and maximised benefits to local businesses and communities.

ITC helped develop respectful cultural tourism tours in four traditional villages. This included creating jobs and increasing incomes for the ethnic minority residents, who in many cases were post-conflict returnees.

Income for Kayah’s SMEs and providers of tourism products and services increased by 83 per over the project duration (2014-2017). Over the same period jobs (formal and informal) increased by 28 per cent.

Kayah’s SMEs increased their competitiveness (e.g. additional marketing skills or increased food safety measures) vis a vis international tourists. New SMEs (e.g. local ground-handlers) were born as a result of new market opportunities.

Between 2014 and 2017 the number of international tourists in Kayah state grew by about 230 per cent. Domestic tourists grew by almost 200 per cent. Client spending in the state almost quadrupled over the same period.

Next to financial indicators, the project is generating important intangible impact, namely facilitating the peace process in Kayah state by enforcing cooperation between all stakeholders, including government authorities, private businesses and local communities.

The tourism sector in Kayah has become more inclusive by involving local producers and service providers from communities that previously did not gain any benefits from tourism. They are now part of the villages’ tourism management clubs and receiving extra income.

In the current phase, the project expects an increase:

  • of 20 per cent in income generated by tourism
  • 200 jobs created/supported
  • a minimum 35 per cent increase in international tourist arrivals to Tanintharyi Region

The project is currently undertaking the baseline survey against which progress and results will be measured.


[published Oct. 2018]