Executive Interviews

Myanmar

2017/5/19(Fri)10:00

*This interview article is divided into two parts and posted separately.
It is the second part of the article.
<Part1>

Nature Sunshine Travel & Tours
Ms. Min Min Myitzu (Managing Director)
Myanmar

Nature Sunshine Travel & Tours Ms. Min Min Myitzu (Managing Director) MyanmarMany business people from abroad including the emerging countries have participated in HIDA training programs. Positions of the targeted audience vary with the programs, and there are some programs aimed for top executives.

This time, we interviewed with a managing director of a travel agency in Myanmar which provides tourism related services and professional MICE arrangements.


--Please tell us about the current market environment of your business in your country.

Current market environment of the Tourism industry in Myanmar is quite dynamic since the start of its dramatic growth in 2014-15. Now, there are more business establishments, more job opportunities and people have more disposable income. Therefore, if we consider the demand side, people are travelling more and the rate of domestic travel as well as outbound travel is increasing. In the old days, people mostly went for pilgrim trips inside the country visiting sacred places of Buddhism such as Bagan, the ancient city which flourished as a center of Buddhism in this country with many temples. But nowadays, people enjoy more leisure tours to beautiful beach resorts for relaxing, for example. Since Myanmar has a lot of these kinds of resorts, they are getting popular as new tourist destinations.
 
Moreover, outbound tours like medical tours are also becoming popular. As for the medical tours, we normally arrange just accommodation and flight as hospitals have their own agencies to arrange the core medical treatment aspects of the tours. However, if tour participants would like to enjoy side trips, for example, of course we can help them and we are happy to do so.
 
The primary reasons for this dramatic increase in the number of tourists is, I think, a cultural change and an increase in disposable income among Myanmar people. More practically, improvement of public transportation can have an influence on this situation. As infrastructure inside the country improves, the travel time reduces and people are able to access more areas to visit. Also for the outbound, while in the past for a destination like Japan we had to travel by transit flight ,now direct flights are available and it can reduce travel time as well as travel cost, which makes travelling much easier.
 
As for inbound tours, compared to last year, a lower number of tourists visited Myanmar this year. 
 
Regarding the supply side, by seeing the potential, more travel companies are popping up and the competition is intense in every aspect. There are also foreign travel companies but their focus is more on inbound tours for foreign tourists.
 
Local tour companies prepare various day return packages targeting young and middle aged travelers to have short trips on weekends. They use advertisements in various ways, do quantity discounts, and promote their business in many ways. Compared to other countries, TV commercials are not a common way to advertise services in my home country. Travel agencies prefer putting up posters and distributing brochures in towns, but the most important medium is Social Networking Services (SNS). In Myanmar, even those who have never used computers have smartphones, and among those smartphone users Facebook has gained great popularity. About 80% of the Myanmar people use this SNS to post and share pictures and exchange information. Therefore, we can expect to attract many potential customers by posting advertisements on SNS like Facebook.


--Business customs of your country may differ from those of other countries including Japan. Please use a few episodes to explain your distinctive differences from them in terms of the mindset for working, business culture, and national characters.

In Myanmar we are still in a cash based business culture; that is to say, most of the transactions are done with cash payments rather than with cards. The practice of using cards is still at introductory stage, and we still need to develop the practice of using electronic cards and online payment systems which save time and effort.
 
Most people are less aggressive, nice and easy. Establishing a strong network with Myanmar’s business society and participation in Industry Associations can help to accommodate for more business transactions.
Most people in Myanmar have a tendency to be reluctant to say “No” to a request, but in reality sometimes they can’t fulfill a request, which can cause inconvenience for the other side. There is a concern with time, as about 50% of the people fail to be on time.


--What are the points that you have kept in mind to develop human resources in your company? In other words, how do you wish to improve your engagement with the matter in the future?
 
  • To focus on the Training and Development part so that people can get enough knowledge and information to perform their tasks efficiently and effectively.
  • To establish HR rules that are clearly stated and make sure every employee understands it.
  • To provide a certain level of flexibility for the rules, depending on the situation.
  • To establish motivation and incentive systems.
 
In order to achieve efficient human development, I send employees to various training programs. In Yangon, there are several training centers run by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, organizations related to the tourism industry, and private firms. They provide programs that mainly last for about two months for people in the tourism industry to develop their skills. Now one employee of my company is on the course to learn ticketing. Other than skills as professionals in this industry, a good command of English is also very important. Many English courses are also provided, so I am considering to have some young employees attend an English language training course. In the company, I put emphasis on On-the-Job Training where senior managers supervise their juniors for more improvement.


--What is your impression about Japan and Japanese companies? Please share with us an episode or experience that surprised or touched you.

Japan is a well-developed country with Tokyo as its capital, which is an enormous metropolitan city. Japanese people are calm, polite, helpful, and friendly.
 
With Japanese companies, I noticed several critical success factors such as respect among individuals, the idea of considering employees as the most valuable asset of companies, very good corporate philosophy and management policy, Kaizen activities for continuous improvement, 5S practice which keeps factories and work places clean, punctuality, etc. Japanese companies have been taking a leading role in ICT and the electronics industry over the world.
 
During my stay in Japan, I have gotten a lot of experiences both in the classroom and on study tours, as well as at places around and about. Among those experiences, I would like to share two of them that really surprised or touched me: the visit to Toyota’s Plant and Mount Fuji.
 
While we visited Toyota’s Plant, I was granted the chance to observe how people worked the whole assembly line, JIT inventory, and operated Quality Management with TQM tools, 5S, Kaizen, etc. Being there reminded me of the theories I learned about during my days of studying economics. Seeing those theories operate in real life sparked a connection in my mind between the textbook theories and the real-life logistics and I was really glad about that.
 
Another thing I was impressed with very much was the beauty of Mt. Fuji. During a weekend, all of participants of the course visited Mt. Fuji, which is a famous land mark of Japan. I have seen this mountain in pictures, but when I saw it in reality, it was so much different from how it looked in pictures. The pictures and movies cannot describe the grace and beauty of Mt Fuji completely. It was so amazing to see the silvery snow-capped Mt. Fuji under the sunlight. We took many pictures and videos to record the view but I realized that it was the best to keep it in our heart. I will never forget the view.


Thank you very much for your cooperation.
 
*This interview article divided into two parts and posted separately.
It is the second part of the article.
<Part1>

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