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The ASEAN Promotional Chapter for Tourism (APCT) — India Chapter is promoting ASEAN as a single and collective tourism destination to the Indian audience.

The ASEAN Promotional Chapter for Tourism (APCT) — India Chapter is promoting ASEAN as a single and collective tourism destination to the Indian audience.
ASEAN countries include Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.
APCT was conceived by the member countries of the ASEAN as part of its efforts to leverage the tremendous tourism potential of the region. Manoharan Periasamy, chairman APCT — India Chapter said, “South East Asia has always been an attractive destination for Indians.
In fact, India has consistently been one of the top 10 tourist generating markets to this region. Last year we had over 102 million visitors to the ASEAN countries and Over three million were from India.” Periasamy is also director, Tourism Malaysia, India.
“Historically Indians have been visiting Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. ASEAN has much to offer with the inherent diversity in terms of peoples, lifestyle, culture, religion and culinary experience, together with the rich natural landscape and deep historical heritage.
Last year Myanmar saw a 50 per cent increase in their tourist arrivals and India was a major contributor to it.
Places like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are also fast featuring on the Indian must visit countries list. These are all positive signs for us at APCT,” added Periasamy.
ASEAN recognises the strategic role of the tourism sector in its economic growth and hopes that by 2025, the region will be a quality tourism destination offering a unique, diverse ASEAN experience, and will be committed to responsible, sustainable and inclusive tourism development, so as to contribute significantly to the socio-economic well being of ASEAN people.
Through the APCT, numerous initiatives are being taken to ensure that the tourists get the best during their holidays in the ASEAN region.
Special emphasis is being laid on enhancing product development through regional packages, increase in public awareness of ASEAN products and offerings, facilitation of intra-ASEAN travel, etc. APCT is also identifying ways to standardise and implement a certain level of standard of tourism. Each individual country has been assigned the role of lead coordinators to ensure that the tourists can expect world-class facilities when they visit the South East Asian nations.
Areas like homestay, spa service, security and safety guidelines, clean tourist city standards, community based tourism standards are being finely looked into.
A proposal for an ASEAN Common Visa for non-ASEAN nationals to facilitate business mobility and tourism is in discussion.

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In the field of Myanmar culture “laphet” is very important and interested. “Laphat” in the Myanmar word, it is green tea leaf.
There is the Myanmar saying that – mango is the best in fruits, pork is the best in meats, laphet is the best in leaves. (toD;rSmo&uf? tom;rSm 0uf? t&GufrSm vufzuf)
Therefore, people from all walks of life regard laphet as their favourite food. There is a saying that “if one wishes to eat good laphet, the leaf-plucking Palaung must climb the hill slowly” so as to get good quality.
As laphet is grown up on the hillside, growers should climb the hill calmly and pluck the leaves one by one.

According to the historical records, it is learnt that King Alaung Sithu (1113-60 A.D.) of Bagan, who received holy fruit seeds offered by the spirits of the Malayu Island during his sojourn to the eastern countries, gave them to the Palaung national, they received them with both hands (Let Nit Phet).
So these holy fruit seeds have become “laphet” throughout the successive generations up to the present day. Laphet is called “Namet” in the Shan language, “Myant” in the Palaung language.
They grew these seeds, on the soil of Taungpine area in the northern Shan state. Since then, the seeds had grown up and spread out widely through out the hilly regions of the Palaung hill.
According to “Laphet Myittasar” composed by U Ponnya (prominent Myanmar play writer in Konbaung era) the guests coming from far and near had been hosted with betel leaf, tobacco and laphet by ancient Myanmar during their donation cere monies.
The guests had been invited with laphet during donation ceremony before invitation cards were not popular. Once the guest received laphet instead of an invitation card, he must go to the ahlu (donation) without fail.
It was an act showing the response. And also it was a respect between donor and guest reciprocally. When there were the days of invitation with laphet, the day of rice-pounding and the day of mandat (pandal) building during ordination as monk, novitiation and ear-boring ceremonies, the whole village participated enthusiastically.

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It was and act of lovely Myanmar traditional culture. And also it was an act to be emulated. Laphet is the product of the hilly region. The hill people cooked laphet on a heated pan and then poured it into hot boiling water which they drink. The plain people drink plain tea without cooking laphet on a heated pan.
“Shwephi Moelut” brand is the best known to the public among many brands of green tea. “Shwephi Moelut” is the green tea which is plucked in advance before the rain season.The hill side people usually climb the hillside and pluck laphet in the months of Taboung and Tagu (March and April).
Laphet stands delicately as the top position in the field of Myanmar traditional culture. Plantation of laphet is the traditional work of the hill people. They plant laphet in groups on the hill side.
There is discipline for them not to pluck its branch but to pluck its sprouts by hands. They have to pluck all the sprouts hurriedly without leaving behind anyone. Laphet already pluck has to undergo the process of being air out and dried in the sun.
Laphet not being dried in the sun is to be transformed into pickled tea leave and processed tea leave for making tea. The Myanmar people mix pickled tea leaves with a variety of fritters to get sweet, sour and hot taste and take it as food.
“Zayan laphet” is the best popular among others.
In olden days the guests paying a visit to house were served not only with betel boxes but also with pots of plain tea together with other ingredients as delicacy.
According to the treatise of indigenous medicine, it is learnt that laphet has medicinal properties, i.e., it prevents thirsty, clears one’s wind, freshens the mouth, clears one’s eye and discharge urine freely.

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If one takes laphet too much, he will suffer from flatulence, insomnia and loss of sleep. Therefore, in order to have laphet free from such suffering it is necessary to improve it, i.e., to mix it with lemon juice, tc knead it with salt and finally to squeeze it until it is free from a bitter taste. The East India Company and Bombay Burma Company in the colonial time had transected business with laphet in Myanmar for so many years.
Hence, they had undergone much more experience in trading laphet than the Myanmar nationals.

 Source : Traveller (From Aug 31 to Sept 6 ) Vol 3, No 12