Tourists can have quite an affect on locals in Burma. We highlight a few articles that cover some of the pros and cons. We also look at a few good eco-initiatives that were covered in the news recently? At the end of this post we have some further suggestions for visiting Burma.
Let us know if there’s anything else you heard or read about Burma that could be of interest to our readers!
Tourists vs Locals
A recent article written by Lu Hai Liang for CNN is a good introduction to the topic of the influence of tourism on the Burmese people. Although some of the tour-guides in this article would say the monks are used to the increasing crowds of tourists, conversations with the monks show that they are actually quite disturbed by the attention during their daily routine. Another example is given by Charlotte Rose where she covers the issue of children becoming tourist attractions.
The increasing numbers of tourists are a very welcome source of income with great potential for the Burmese. Already in the last few years many things have changed, as can be read in Catherine Marshall piece on the developments in Burma between her recent visit and the her visit two years ago. With even less expected tourist activities like golfing-holidays are turning up in Burma’s offering, Jo Lane describes the opportunities and challenges that come with changes over the years.
But where is the line between promoting tourism to improve lives financially, while also respecting the daily lives of Burmese people? There is no simple answer to this questions as it’s a mix of responsible local authorities and travellers. For travellers, a part of the question is described in Emily Monaco’s article: How to distinguish between ‘Sympathy’ and Sympathethic tourism? She gives suggestions how to prepare yourself for a visit to for example Burma in case you’d like to engage in ‚supporting activities‘ for the local community.
We’re definitely not writing this to deter you from visiting Burma, but to highlight some potential pitfalls of visiting. Get in touch with us at EcoBurma if you have any questions. Some recently posted useful tips on responsible travel can be found on Pink Pangea, where Abbie Synan writes about her experiences and suggestions for making your visit worthwile.
Tourism doesn’t just affect the lives of people, but can also have a big impact on eco-systems. Unfortunately pollution, waste and potential ecosystems damage is already taking place, especially in busy tourist attractions like Inle Lake. However, by working together with the local communities and authorities, opportunities are being found to get the best of both worlds: income from tourism in a non-harmful way. Entrepreneurs like Ko Mo Lwin already try to tap into this.
Some good news on environmental initiatives could also be found recently : Jonathan Saha described the good work done with ‘retired‘ elephants in Shan State where elephants that previously worked in the timber trade are now part of an eco-tourism initiative. The article states that: Providing entertainment for tourists is not its purpose. Instead, it is orientated around the needs of their elephants, their riders and the local ecology
Because of Burma opening up to the rest of the world, nature lovers have started flocking to the country and helping local organisations re-discover and preserve some of their natural wonders. About 60 rare Myanmar roofed turtles have just been released in the wild after being deemed extinct. Earlier in the year a similar thing happened with the Jerdon’s babbler, a small bird that was thought extinct as well.
A few tips
We’ll end this week’s roundup with a few tips on things to do or see in Burma that made the news this month
If you’d like to see more of the history of Burma, you might be interested in for example the historic forts along the Ayeryawady River. Or otherwise the history of old buildings and apartments that people currently still live in, but that are in danger of disappearing.
Bloomberg posted an article with some beautiful pictures and reasons why to go to Burma.
And finally we have a short but interesting video for you on how (not) to board a train in Burma! Please don’t try this yourself
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