The 34th ASEAN Tourism Forum at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar

Last January 22-29, 2015, Travelife Magazine, the leading travel and lifestyle magazine, participated in the 34th ASEAN Tourism Forum, held in Nay Pyi Taw, the new capital city of Myanmar.

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The Nay Pyi Taw International Convention Center (NICC). Official venue of the ATF 2015

The biggest travel and tourism expo for ASEAN countries was officially launched by the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, H.E. U Thein Sein, welcoming all delegates, exhibitors, as well as esteemed guests from international media. Around 2,000 attendees from over 50 countries were of attendance during this 7-day event.

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H.E. U Thein Sein, President of Myanmar, giving his opening address at the NICC

Travelife Business Development Manager and Contributing Editor Kevin Lapeña wrote from Nay Pyi Taw:

“Everyone was so accommodating in Myanmar. From the time we arrived at Nay Pyi Taw, all of us were personally assisted to our hotels, and made sure that we were comfortable where we were. This was especially exhibited by the un-matched hospitality of the Sky Palace Hotel, the hotel where we stayed in, and one of the best hotels in Nay Pyi Taw. This was further reinforced by their top-tier facilities, and the quality of their services and accommodation.

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The Sky Palace Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw

The first day of the week long festivities were devoted to officially open the event. In the morning, a selected number of guests, and fortunately enough for me, including I, were invited for a tour around the new capital. We were taken to the Uppatasanti Pagoda, the biggest pagoda in the city. The pagoda is situated well above the street, which required a steep climb to reach the temple. It was an incredible sight, especially after finding out that the towers are made of actual gold!

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The Uppatasanti Pagoda

Afterwards, just across the street from the pagoda, we went to check out Myanmar’s famous “white elephants”. These elephants are rare, given its unusual color, and are given importance, as the white elephant is seen as a symbol of good fortune in local culture.

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The White Elephants of Nay Pyi Taw

Before heading back to our hotel, we paid a quick visit to the local market where a wide variety of products are sold. Some of which include, locally-made products, fresh produce, jewelry, and wine.

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A seamstress at work in the local market

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Vendors unloading their wares at the local market

Later that evening, the Asean Tourism Forum was officially opened by President H.E. U Thein Sein, which was followed by a banquet with live cultural entertainment, and a generous selection of food and drinks. It truly was a good opportunity to break the ice amongst attendees, and for everyone to get acquainted with one another.

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Local performers awaiting the arrival of VIPs and guests at the welcome dinner

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Me, joining the Philippine Department of Tourism at their table

The following days had the expo proper, with the Nay Pyi Taw Convention Center being filled with thousands of travel-hungry guests looking to find good deals in planning their trips to the ASEAN countries this 2015. The evenings that followed were an absolute treat, where the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand, hosted parties for everyone to enjoy!

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A DJ performing for the ATF crowd during the Philippine Night

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A fire dancer performing at the Nay Pyi Taw Kempinski Hotel

As the expo came to a close, it would be safe to say that Myanmar’s hosting of the ASEAN Tourism Forum was a definite success. With Nay Pyi Taw being a new and growing city, with all its facilities and infrastructure needed in hosting large scale events and conventions, the new capital is in a prime spot to position themselves as a premier international MICE destination, and would absolutely open up Myanmar to more opportunities to strengthen economical growth through tourism.”

Kevin Lapeña, Business Development Manager & Contributing Editor

Travelife TV & Magazine

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