Thrice as many foreign visitors as locals coming to watch Ayeyawady dolphins

The number of foreign visitors coming to watch cooperative fishing with Ayeyawady dolphins has been three times higher than local visitors this year, according to U Maung Lay, the leader of the Ayeyawady Dolphins Conservation and Cooperative Fishermen Team.

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Fishermen are catching fish with the help of dolphins in the Ayeyawady River near Mandalay. Photo: Supplied

Between January and September, more than 1,430 tourists and over 430 locals observed demonstrations of fishing with the dolphins.
“This year, Japanese visitors came for video shooting for more than one month. We were booked for the entire day, and they paid high rates. Local people are also interested in watching fishing with the dolphins. Tourists have been visiting every day since the start of the tour season,” said U Maung Lay. Germans topped the list of foreign visitors. According to travel data, about 73 foreign and 90 local travellers watched the Ayeyawady dolphin shows in 2016, while 95 foreign and 183 local travellers watched them in 2017. The number increased to 183 foreign and 402 local travellers from January through May, 2018. Groups of private school students have also been coming down to observe the dolphins. “The dolphin conservation and community-based tourism projects have been successful. We have implemented dolphin conservation and community-based tourism projects in eight villages. Now, local people are earning extra income from cooking, selling souvenirs, and showing dolphins,” said U Han Win, the head of Dolphin Conservation.
A demonstration on fishing with dolphins can fetch K40,000 for one boat owner. A single boat can carry two foreign passengers or four local passengers in one trip. The implementation of community-based tourism has helped increase the number of tourists significantly year by year.—Khaing Satt Wai
(Translated by Hay Mar)

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