Thailand’s female Minister of Tourism & Sports, H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, marked the launch of the bilateral tourism co-operation between Thailand and Myanmar at the Shangri-La Hotel in Chiang Mai on May 14, 2015. In a hearty welcome speech, she addressed some 50 representatives of tour operators and media from European countries such as the UK, Sweden, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, also Dubai and the US, to experience the remarkable diversity of tourism products and services in the two ASEAN nations of Thailand and Myanmar together.

Actually, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Ministry of Hotels & Tourism, Myanmar together with Bangkok Airways are organizing the highly ambitious Mega Joint Familiarization Trip between Thailand and Myanmar from May 14-21, with an objective of promoting the two countries, as the two neighbors will move towards full implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of the year 2015.

“This joint FAM trip activity is one of the starting initiatives to promote the tourism growth of ASEAN. Many parts of ASEAN have never really been opened to the eyes of the world before, and by forming bilateral tourism co-operation with our ASEAN friends, we will be able to open up unseen, untapped beautiful tourism destinations altogether. As such, international tourists, who come to visit Thailand, will also be able to extend their vacation to explore the charming culture and various world-renowned tourist attractions in our neighboring countries”, the Tourism Minister explained.

Important to notice is the fact that Chiang Mai has been chosen as the host city for this joint FAM trip due to its readiness as the best location among the AEC including modern infrastructure, easy accessibility, variety of tourism products, and international standards of service. The FAM trip comprises a product briefing at Chiang Mai, followed by visiting some main destinations in Myanmar, including Mandalay, Bagan, and Nay Pyi Taw as the new capital of Myanmar, and ending in Bangkok.

In addition to the joint FAM trip, the bilateral tourism co-operation between Thailand and Myanmar will also extend to the joint tourism marketing activities at the upcoming Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) in Bangkok on June 3-5, 2015 and ITB 2016 in Berlin, Germany. The Thailand-Myanmar Joint FAM Trip comes under the “ASEAN for All” dimension, where in the initial stage Thailand has made the bilateral agreement with Myanmar, and is set to forming tourism co-operation with other ASEAN neighbors, especially with Lao PDR and Cambodia.

In an accompanied brochure called ASEAN Routes, the following “Highway Connectivity” from Chiang Mai is highlighted (amongst others):

  1. Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai - Mae Sai/Tachileik - Kyaing Tong in Myanmar
  2. Chiang Mai - Mae Sot/Myawaddy - Thaton - Yangon in Myanmar
  3. Chiang Mai - Nan - Huai Kon/Hongsa - Luang Prabang in Lao PDR
  4. Chiang Mai - Khon Kaen - Mukdahan/Savannakhet in Lao PDR - Vietnam
  5. Chiang Mai - Sa Kaeo - Aranyaprathet/Poipet - Siem Reap in Cambodia

Preparing for the ASEAN Trip, driving with your own car is still a problem. Presently, Lao PDR, Malaysia, and Singapore are the only countries that give motorists from other countries the freedom to bring their cars and drive. Also, apart from Myanmar which requires visas, ASEAN countries do not require visas. Furthermore, there are a myriad of flight routes, train routes, bus routes starting from Thailand and linking with the other ASEAN countries.

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