This week, in our Weekly EcoBurma Round-up, we are back to basics:
Sustainable tourism, how to reach out towards locals, travel thoughts and stunning places to see in Burma.
This article speaks highly of the charm of Myanmar and its people. It portrays the country as “culturally still intact” with “people still living out a largely agrarian life […] as their ancestors have done for centuries” and advocates travellers to go now to see this “fragile, precious and unspoiled” atmosphere. An atmosphere which can not remain intact whilst the country opens up to travel operators advocating mass tourism.
Where it is important to highlight Burma’s many charms; travellers, in respect of responsible tourism, should be conscious of romanticizing poverty as it serves to discredit the people of Myanmar´s achievements; which were met in an environment of adversity.
From another perspective, “sustainable tourism can help tackle the world’s biggest challenges, says UN official”. The UNWTO (UN World Tourism Organization) recommends travelling to new horizons and emersing oneself in unfamiliar cultures, whilst simultaneously upholding policies which seek to combat climate change and develop incentives for a green economy in the tourism sector.
Indeed, as “tourism accounts for 5% of the world’s energy consumption”, it seems necessary to reduce the climate impact of tourist travel and conversely, by promoting environmental sustainability, it could be a fairly significant source of innovative solutions in the struggle against climate change. As stated by Ban Ki-moon, “sustainable energy will allow tourism to continue to expand while mitigating its impact on the environment”.
From a more concrete perspective on the development of tourism in Burma, “a Burmese tourism industry master plan is being drafted […] to expand tourism infrastructure and quality of services as quickly as possible”. With increasing numbers of tourists, Burma´s government will have to meet the demands of an expanding industry, a demand which has not yet been met, evidenced by comments made by Vice President Sai Mauk Kham at a UN World Tourism Day: ´Burma needs everything from experienced tour guides to more hotel rooms´.
Where the government response has been lax, the same cannot be said of foreign companies that are increasingly expressing interest in investing in Burma. With “Vietnam and France [through Accor Group, the market leader in Europe] set to become major hotel investors in Rangoon”.
Additionally, “Burma calls for partners to upgrade airports”. Focus is on Rangoon and Mandalay international airport. In this way, Burma’s Department of Civilian Aviation (DCA) solicits foreign and local investors to “support the financial costs of expanding the airport’s service system and increasing the size of the building”. More terminals (such as a new one in Pegu) are also required to ease traffic and handle the growing tourists’ flows, enhanced by the launch and addition of new flight networks by several international airlines.
Our first travel story on Burma comes from two backpackers that, at the end of their travels in Burma, relayed some of their thoughts on the people they met, and the things they observed there: ‘”we had a strange affair with Myanmar. It is a bit like the first time I ate an olive, the taste was a little bitter […] but there is something beguiling about the place that manages to warmly grab at your heartstrings and keep hold of them for your visit”.
Myanmar is considered a rare gem of beauty, for its wild and beautiful landscapes; however, the picture is not entirely rosy from a political point of view and travellers should be aware of this when they visit the country. From their description the backpackers portray a country where, even if some changes are arising, “poverty is rife [with] some extreme examples on the journey from Yangon to Mandalay. Families living on remote train platforms, or by the side of the train tracks”.
The article begins with their portrayal of the Burmese people they encountered throughout their journey. They found the older generations shy and reserved (“perhaps this wariness was bourne from the years of isolation and imposed silence, given the political and military rule over the last few decades”) while the younger generation were increasingly open and eager to speak with foreigners. They found it was easier to exchange conversations with locals in smaller towns or villages outside the main tourist sites, and that where effective communication was a problem it could be solid through “one common language […]; football”.
We strongly encourage you to discover what their other impressions are on Burmese technology, Myanmar Hotels, Myanmar Tourism and on the political struggle and the government!
We continue with another short article about a traveller who is preparing a visit to the border between Burma and Thailand. A journey of anticipated trepidation, intrigue and excitement.
And last but not least, “A day on the Lake–Inle Lake in Myanmar” a trip encompassing Inle city and the must-see lake tour. With beautiful pictures to brighten up his story, this traveller tells us what to do in Inle: in addition to the lake tour where you “will visit about 4-6 workshops creating silverware, clothes, cigars…etc” (very expensive for Burmese price but affordable in your local currency), visitors will “see local Fishermen famed for the way they paddle in their boats”. The article provides transport advise to Bagan and the surrounding areas as well as accommodation in Inle, an area of astounding natural beauty that would be best explored over the course of two or three days.
See you next week!Weekly EcoBurma Roundup #15,