• Kyodo

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Myanmar’s minister for environmental conservation and forestry has vowed the country will support private initiatives to ensure the sustainable development of its woodlands.

In a recent interview in Tokyo, Win Tun expressed hope that Tokyo and Japanese companies will begin sharing their expertise in developing workers for Myanmar’s forestry industry, pointing out his country’s “limited number of skilled human resources.”

He stressed the importance of protecting the industry, given that “47 percent of (Myanmar’s) land is covered by forests,” and said a number of Japanese businesses have already signaled an interest in investing in the country’s forestry sector.

With teak and other timber products accounting for a major slice of Myanmar’s exports, Win Tun said he plans to increase government involvement by assisting mainly private companies in planting trees amid reported cases of woodland destruction.

The minister also said he intends to promote emissions reduction in Myanmar by implementing measures under the global Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation initiative. Myanmar’s government plans to ban logging exports in 2014 and to instead shift to pulp production and the shipment of finished products.

Japanese tourists double

YANGON
Kyodo

The number of Japanese tourists traveling to Myanmar in the first seven months of the year doubled compared with 2011, according to official data.

A total of 11,893 Japanese entered Myanmar on tourist visas between January and July, compared to 5,537 in the same period last year, figures released by Myanmar’s Central Statistical Organization showed.

But this figure still only accounts for 5 percent of the total 242,370 tourists Myanmar welcomed in the reporting period. Visitors from Thailand topped the list, at 36,069, followed by 13,840 Chinese and 13,488 French nationals.

The country’s growing tourist sector has been spurred by the gradual lifting of economic sanctions by Western countries.

The easing of sanctions has allowed U.S. firms to enter Myanmar’s market, such as Visa Inc., which has started providing credit card services locally. Until recently, credit cards issued by all foreign banks and institutions couldn’t be used in Myanmar.

New regional airlines are also rushing to start flights to the country, targeting its largest city and commercial center, Yangon, and its second-most populous city of Mandalay. Six airlines — All Nippon Airways Co., Korean Air, Taiwan’s EVA Air, Malaysia’s Air Asia, Qatar Air and Germany’s Condor airline — have all started regular services to Yangon and Mandalay this year.

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