The aim of this assessment is to determine the influence of some selected market mix elements (these are product, price, people, partnership and place) on the effectiveness of historical and cultural tourism services.
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There are 8Ps (elements) in the tourism market mix; however, in this assessment only 4Ps will be covered (Esu, 2012, p.277). Geographically, the assessment is within Myanmar; though, destinations of interest are Inlay, Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan. The assessment will zero-in on the market strategy targeting the Chinese visitors with regard to cultural and historical tourism themes. Myanmar borders China to the northeast.
Chinese travel for leisure and business, inter alia (Lewis-Smith, 2012). In 2011, the visitor arrival (at 61,696) from China was the highest compared to any other country (Network Myanmar, 2012). Moreover, these statistics indicate a rise when compared with the previous years.
Most of the visitors were on tourist visas. Much as there exist a 224km road network linking Myanmar to China via the Myitkyina-Kanpikete-Teng Chong, the country has experienced a dismal paradigm shift in promoting tourism internationally by exploring more avenues to boost visitor increase from the Chinese target market (Xinhua News Agency, 2009).
Market Mix Concept
The concept builds on the fundamentals of marketing. The concept was introduced in the 1940s and integrates (8Ps) elements, which form the bases of analysis for a marketer (Wolfe & Crotts, 2011, p.2). With regard to the tourism industry, two categories of the elements exist; these are the primary (that include product, people, place, price, participation, and promotion) and the process (Wolfe & Crotts, 2011, p.2).
Market mix inferences are imperative when modelling marketing strategies to optimize on resource allocation that has the potential of producing the strongest return-on-investment (Jansen-Verbeke, 1995, p.316). In essence, the market mix has the potential to augment effectiveness in delivering tourism services in the Myanmar.
Archaeological tourism richness at Bagan is represented by the diverse Pagodas and Temples that exemplify the architectural styles of the 11th and the 13th Centuries. The 2217 deserted but renovated Buddhist temples in Bagan are a haven for tourists that treasure archaeology (Myanmar Tourism Services, 2012).
Not only the temples, the thick jungle surrounding them makes the scenic sites richly recreational, adventurous and benign to tour around. Nevertheless, the temples are conspicuous since the Bagan is on a plane. There is also the Bagan Archaeological Museum furnished with antiques, stone inscriptions and Buddha images. History lovers can recollect and collate about the achievements made by the first Myanmar Empire, which was established by King Anawrahta (Myanmar Tourism Services, 2012).
Other isolated ancient tourist sites are the Maha Gandayon Monastery and the U Pein teak bridge in Amarapura and brick monastery and the Nanmyint watchtower in Innwa. Mandalay destination hosts the Amarapura and the Innwa sites.
With regard to cultural tourism, Taunggyi is taunted as the cultural heritage backyard in Myanmar. Within the Mandalay Palace Cultural Museum, over15 hill tribe traditional attires, especially for different festivals and occasions are on display (Htun & Chaisawat, 2008). The museum also exhibits divans, chairs, swords and fans that were in use during the Sawbwa dynasty. Another cultural attraction is Pwe, a traditional theatre, where performances integrate sports, weddings and religious festivals (Myanmar Tourism Services, 2012).
The Mandalay Palace Cultural Museum and the National Museum exhibit ancient traditional cultures of the Myanmar. Mandalay Palace has the inscriptions of the Buddhists scriptures. Twente town host a range of Myanmar cuisines and pottery work (Htun & Chaisawat, 2008). The Chinese are attracted to the Myanmar cuisines as expressed during their visits (Network Myanmar, 2012). Some native Chinese opt to occasionally visit Myanmar as an escape from some of their cultural nuisances that are absent in Myanmar (Network Myanmar, 2012).
Pricing and Partnership Strategies
As a pricing strategy, tourists from China are among those recognized under the visa-on-travel market strategy. This is a gesture to facilitate the visitors’ entry into Myanmar. Myanmar appreciates joint venture and foreign investment. Out-of the 739 hospitality facilities in Myanmar, 22 are foreign owned; while, four are on joint venture (ASEAN-China Centre, 2010). The influx of tourist visitors from China is an index on friendly pricing regime.
A tourist gateway through Yangon International Airport registered a rise of 61,509 in 2010 compared to 2009 tourist arrivals (Network Myanmar, 2012). In terms of partnership, Myanmar leadership intends to rejoin the World Tourism Organization in order to leverage its tourism agenda (ASEAN-China Centre, 2010). This will be a crucial step to reforms since Myanmar is a member of some of the regional integration frameworks in South East Asia.
These integration frameworks are imperative to regional development by fostering free movements of citizens among the member countries as well as the collective marketing (Soa & Morrison, 2004, p.93; Chiang, 1998, p.75). This is an opportunity for Myanmar to tap from the huge populace of China on the pretext of tourist travel.
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The Tourism Policy in Myanmar takes cognisance of technical education and training of the populace in order to develop competent human capital to run the industry (Oo, 2008). Myanmar is also party to the Jakarta Plan of Action of 1986 on human resource development. In order to realise this, Myanmar set up the Manpower Planning Committee and the National Nucleus Commission for Human Resource Development.
Generally, the highest professional training in tourism in Myanmar are at diploma and certificate levels (Oo, 2008). Thus, compared to other neighbouring states such as India and Thailand, the human resource is undeveloped. The human resource development is also weak in experience to achieve the international standards (Intaravitak & Patanapongse, 2011). A major drawback is the limited training opportunities (Jansen-Verbeke, 1995, p.315).
Automation or electronic ticketing is still nascent in Myanmar. Myanmar relies on only on internet service provider thus making the access limited and expensive for local tourism service providers. This explains why more Chinese are less aware about Myanmar tourism potential as indicated by the Network Myanmar (2012).
Myanmar presents a rich cultural and historical heritage. The Chinese are high spenders thus diversifying cultural and historical tourism products will increase more opportunities for them to spend. Myanmar can diversify through integrating rural life where visitors participate in sleepovers, home stays and engage in demonstrations of cultural activities (such as preparing traditional dishes).
Rejoining the World Tourism Organization is a positive gesture; however, the Myanmar leadership should hasten its pace. People should be trained adequately in the different Chinese languages and high-end skills in providing standard and quality service. Addressing language barrier with tourist from China is an incentive to Myanmar (Sarker et al. 2012, p.279).
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