Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business’s report encourages sustainable, quality tourism in Myanmar

Myanmar Toursim Federation

Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), a Yangon-based organization encouraging responsible business activities throughout Myanmar, released a sector-wide impact assessment on tourism on Friday, highlighting a number of actual and potential impacts of the country’s tourism development and choices to be made.
The report spotlights the livelihoods of local inhabitants and the long-term viability of the country’s tourism destinations such as Bagan, Inlay and Kyaik-hti-yoe which are already under environmental and social pressure from the effects of tourism.
The report said implementation of government policies already in place to encourage responsible tourism is incomplete due to a lack of capacity and resources.
Vicky Bowmen, MCRB director, stressed the need not to too much focus on hard infrastructure, particularly in hotel construction, urging to rein so-called “hotel zones”, where land is compulsorily acquired for multiple hotels, often on environmentally sensitive sites.
“What is needed—as the government’s own Master Plan indentified— is participatory destination management and a ‘zonal planning’ approach, which is not the same thing as establishing a ‘hotel zone’.”
The report found that local communities are still not sufficiently engaged in decisions on tourism development.
“Engagement, consultation and participatory of stakeholders should form the basis of tourism development projects from the very start,” said Allen Jorgensen from the Danish Institute for Human Rights.
The report also highlights the significant job creation and poverty alleviation potential of tourism, and potential threats as well.
“Myanmar that has so many ecological and cultural assets is lucky to still have choices. It can try to compete with Bali and Thailand to attract mass tourism. But, if it does, it risks destroying the things that make its destinations different. Alternatively, Myanmar can harness tourism in support of the protection of its diverse cultures and ecosystems,” the MCRB director commented.
These choices need to be made on the basis of participatory discussions at the local and national level, she said.

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