We are delighted to present to you our 40th Weekly EcoBurma Round-up. In this special edition, we explore new areas of Burma which are slowly opening up to tourism, particularly Mon State. Plus recent news on a tragic bus accident that caused eleven deaths.
New areas of Burma open up to tourism
Myanmar is becoming a destination of choice for many tourists from all over the world. The most popular route consisting of the “so called “grand four”: Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.” As most are aware, a trip to Myanmar must be prepared with great diligence. All the more since foreigners do not have access to certain parts of the country.
Indeed, Myanmar can be divided into three categories: “areas where the permission is not required, areas where the permission is not required as long as you don’t leave the city, and areas where the permission is required.”
Two years ago, more than half of the country was closed to tourists. And now, the Burmese Ministry of Tourism announced the opening of new regions to tourists. Our first article is very useful in that it gives us an extensive and detailed list of these areas. We strongly encourage you to read through it. Since all this information is very new, it’s good to double check the accuracy of the information provided by the Ministry.
Our second article focuses on the current state of tourism in Chin State, one of the newly opened areas. Chin State is a largely ignored territory in the Himalayan foothills. After remaining isolated for a long time, its veil of mystery is slowly being raised opening its doors to travelers. Foreigners, Europeans in particular, are now relatively more eager to discover its beauty. However, Chin State suffers from a lack of bureaucratic clarity which is certainly hampering its growth in terms of tourism. Indeed, “due to the absence of precisely issued directives, [.] law enforcement officers continued to demand that foreign visitors obtain and carry with them government approval for their presence in Chin State.” This lack of clear follow-up and dialogue as well as “inadequate local and national laws and regulations for the industry” can negatively impact tourism. In this way, it seems to be necessary that government and local officials cooperate closely in order to increase the value that tourism can bring to growth and employment in the region.
And some surprising news: hotels are still full in Sittwe, Arakan State, even after the town became restricted to tourists. It’s not regular tourists who make up the most number of guests, rather “Sittwe’s hotels are beginning to welcome a new type of international guest: aid workers.”
Indeed, following major outbreaks of ethnic violence between Arakenese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas are forced to live in precarious shelters without access to basic service and depend exclusively on humanitarian aid. It “led to an influx of UN staff, NGO workers and foreign dignitaries, all of whom are seeking temporary accommodation paid for by their organizations. Nowadays, Sittwe’s hotels can barely keep up with demand.” Given the absence of tourists, such a situation allows the region to keep their tourism industry alive, including hotels, restaurants and tourist transport firms.
Focus on Mon State
We are pleased to tell you about “the World’s Biggest Reclining Buddha”. Standing at an impressive 30 meters and stretching 180 meters in length – “the statue near the town of Mudon is known locally as the Two Paddy Birds Pagoda. It has become a popular pilgrimage and tourist site among the Burmese.”
Aside from this huge and magnificent Buddha, you can explore many other wonders such as the “Golden Rock” (also known as Kyaiktiyo Pagoda). According to legend, the Golden Rock itself is miraculously perched on a strand of the Buddha’s hair.
Our two next articles focus on Mawlamyne, the capital of Mon State and “the third largest city in Myanmar after Yangon and Mandalay.”
“By the old Moulmein pagoda lookin’ lazy at the sea….” Along with great pictures, the author describes the journey and shares wonderful tips on how to make your trip a unique and unforgettable experience.
However, to build a stable future for generations to come, Mon State needs to diversify and develop a valid industry. Indeed, Mon State is now populated mostly by the elderly and young children since most of its labor force fled to Thailand to escape poverty.
Finally, we just received some sad news.A bus traveling from Rangoon to Mandalay “skipped off a bridge, killing 11 people and injuring 16 others, including an American citizen […]. The highway is notorious for accidents, mainly due to speeding and careless driving around its many sharp curves.”
Have a good week everyone!Weekly EcoBurma Roundup #40: New areas, Mon State, Bus accident,