Mandalay bus services in final stages

Mandalay: In line with India’s Act East Policy, the proposal for a bus service between Mandalay in Myanmar and Imphal in Manipur is in its final stages, with both the countries trying to liberalize border movements.The Imphal-Mandalay bus service is a long-standing demand of Manipur government as over 10,000 Manipuris live in Mandalay. The distance between the border town of Moreh and Mandalay is 469 km while the Imphal-Moreh highway is 110-km long.India’s ambassador to Myanmar Gautam Mukhopadhaya told TOI that liberalizing border movement and transit is a must. However, he said the initiative to achieve the goal should come from private tour and travel operators.”Tour and travel business is key to the success of opening the land route between Myanmar and northeast India,” said Mukhopadhaya. He said the airlines will follow soon once the volume of tourists increase.Mukhopadhaya said the northeastern states also need to do more for the smooth passage of pilgrimage tourism to India by Myanmarese nationals. “We cannot depend on the government alone, private parties have to step in,” he added.Every Myanmarese national wants to visit Bodh Gaya in Bihar, but taking a flight from Yangon to Kolkata is expensive. According to the ambassador, once the movement of people increases through private tour agencies, there would be good days ahead. He said the widening and upgrade of the Mandalay-Moreh road would take about two years.Mukhopadhaya emphasized on sustainable tourism as the sector is witnessing growth. “We need to learn from Myanmar on how they developed the Inle Lake as a tourist destination.”India-Myanmar relations began opening up only in 2011 and the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, visited Myanmar in 2012, showing India’s eagerness to improve ties with its neighbour. Since then, things have been moving fast. Myanmar was closed for about 40 to 50 years.Another area, which many experts want to explore, is the education sector. The consul general of India in Mandalay, N Nandakumar said, “We have robust tourism institutions and can help Myanmar’s tourism management institutes, which are in a nascent stage.” He said Myanmar can gain with Indian ties as the Golden Land has a future in tourism. Nandakumar stressed on the need to improve people-to-people ties between the two countries. “I have a dream of better connectivity between India and Myanmar. And, the geographical connection is an advantage for the two sides,” said the consul general.(The writer was in Mandalay, Myanmar, at the invitation of the Indian Tourism and Hospitality Congress (NE) and Indo-Myanmar Fraternal Alliance)

Source: Times of India

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