Welcome to our new member – Mira Travels
Interview with Dr. Lu Mon, Managing Director
Tell us your story. How did Mira Travels get started?
We started our company Mira Travels & Enterprises Ltd in 2011. Initially we provided medical tourism services to patients from Myanmar, so they could seek treatment at international hospitals across Asia. In 2013, we decided to offer leisure tourism services to locals and international travellers coming to Myanmar. After attending ITB Berlin in 2017, we started to offer independent travel and volunteering programs to our European agents. We see potential for the S.A.V.E travel market in Myanmar and, due to the market’s distinct nature, we would like to promote a separate B2B brand under Mira Travels. We launched Myanmar Educational Expeditions (MEX) in 2018 while Mira Travels still offers leisure tours and MICE arrangements.
What makes Mira Travels different from your competitors?
Mira Travels is an award-winning tour company in Myanmar in terms of innovation. We are also a responsible tour operator, as recognised by our Travelife Partner accreditation and UNGC. Via MEX’s programs we give our customers a chance to contribute to low-income, local communities to impact social, economic and environmental development by supporting community-based tourism activities and social enterprises. We are always happy to create tailor-made programs for our B2B clients and take care of their customers 24/7. We also have programs to support “good” community-based tourism projects developed by UN-ITC and CBI Netherlands.
What is your favourite success story from your organisation?
The founders, (us) are medical doctors and we jumped into the business because of our passion to travel. Our company is young but we try to be innovative, always aiming to be a pathfinder and trendsetter in an uncharted field. We have come across many challenges business-wise and industry-wise, yet we were able to reach some important milestones. We received a tourism innovation grant from the UK Governments’ Business Innovation Facility in 2015. We also contributed a chapter of to a Lonely Planet guidebook through our barrier-free travel project. Our company is proud to be selected as part of the CBI tourism export coaching program ran by the Dutch government (where we initially picked up the idea for this S.A.V.E travel market). Attaining Travelife Partner accreditation is also a milestone for being a responsible tour operator. The most remarkable success came from ITB Berlin 2017, which was the first time we ever joined the event, where we were able to establish business relations with some good agents in the market.
What can we expect to see from Mira Travels in the future?
We will try to develop more meaningful travel experiences in Myanmar for our clients and their customers. We would also like to send out the message that Myanmar’s diversity offers a lot of educational travel opportunities and volunteering experiences, just like our neighbouring countries.
Which trends do you see in educational and active youth travel?
Youth and student travel is a big trend around the world and it brings many benefits. Yet locally in Myanmar, the trend is not that popular. Out of the classroom learning methods are confined to a few international schools here. Most local students travel for the purpose of leisure and sightseeing. We hope that the more cultural exchange activities that foreign youths/students can bring in, the more local students and teachers notice the importance of educational travel in Myanmar, thus contributing to better intellectual development.
How do you work to ensure the health and safety of young travellers involved with Mira Travels?
Myanmar is a safe country to travel around, especially in the main tourist destinations. We work with select suppliers that have a proven track record of service. During the program creation, we work with our clients to select the safe destinations and activities for their customers. Medical facilities in the big cities are really good and in case of emergencies, international medical assistance services are available too. Our company is a member of Myanmar Tourist Healthcare Association so we have quick access to a network of medical facilities in Myanmar, leading to a quick response.
What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?
First of all, we are proud to currently be the only Myanmar member of WYSE Travel Confederation. We would to work with other industry partners to share knowledge and experience, contribute insights and create programs together.
What is an industry challenge your organisation is facing currently?
In Myanmar, the tourism industry creates numerous employment opportunities, generates considerable income along its value chain, and is also a driving force for local community development. Myanmar is in favour of promoting sustainable tourism, trying to attract responsible, quality tourists primarily from European source countries. The international pressure from the Rakhine crisis has discouraged many western tourists from travelling to Myanmar, who otherwise could have contributed positively to the livelihoods of local people. We encourage our partners and travellers to look beyond what you see on social media and to think carefully about how your travel can make a difference to many.
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If you’d like to join WYSE Travel Confederation and benefit from new connections, free access to industry research, informative webinar sessions, discounts on industry events and brand exposure within the youth and student travel industry, click below to view our membership options and find out more.