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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Villages in Myaing Township: Myanmar’s first successful community-based tourism

< Aung Myint Myat >a

Villages nearby Myaing Township, once infamous for its poverty and infertile lands in agriculture industry because of unnatural patterns of weather, are now packed with job opportunities and become a nice place to live in.

These villages including Innyaung village tract, SuLiPan, East and West Kan Gyi Taw villages, located in Myaing Township, Magway Region, are just a 30 minute drive from Bagan.

Like YinTainTaung dam, situated in the arid zone, there are ample natural beauties near the villages of Myaing Township and travellers can gain countryside experience by visiting these places.

Therefore, Action Aid Myanmar, Magway Region Government, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and Journey’s Adventure collectively afforded to implement a community-based tourism (CBT) conducted under the consent of locals in these villages.

Community-based tourism is a tourism in which local residents (often rural, poor and economically marginalised) invite tourists to visit their communities with the provision of overnight accommodation. The residents earn income as land managers, entrepreneurs, service and product providers, and employees.

“Currently, girls working in cities as housemaids came back to their native villages and are employing in alternative jobs,” said U Sun Tun, a local of SuLiPan village.

“Community-based tourism is implemented in underdeveloped villages, not in townships. Although there are a lot of places in Myanmar to implement this CBT program, we choose these villages where locals are simple, united and hardworking. They frankly presented us about their villages when we arrived there. The main thing is that the current success should be maintained as a sustainable development,” said U Khin Aung Tun of Myanmar Tourism Federation.

Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in combination with concerned departments educates people and is opening courses to launch community- based tourism in Myanmar and, now, it is drawing near to reap the fruits of CBT. The achievements of CBT can be seen in neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

A good example of CBT in Myanmar is the villages in Myaing Township. Despite the fact that villages in Myaing Township have no unspoiled beaches, green hills, crystalclear rivers and ancient pagodas, natural  beauties of arid region can attract globetrotters around the world. Last year, a large number of foreigners visited these villages and it is a milestone for CBT in Myanmar.

Tourists can do activities such as cycling around the villages and studying local cultures during their visits. They have to pay three dollars for breakfast, five dollars for lunch and five dollars for dinner. They can also buy local products such as hand-woven cloth, shawls, bags and longyis as souvenirs.

“At this time of moment, youths who once worked as cowboys in these villages are joining other professions. But locals face language barriers and they want to speak English very much. Therefore, we are planning to open English language classes” said U Sun Win.

Moreover, over 1500 foreign travellers registered to visit these villages in Myaing Township in 2016 according to the Journey’s Adventure Travel agency.

All in all, villages in Myaing Township’s rich natural assets and cultural lure have the potential to make these places one of the top tourism destinations in Myanmar. If the relevant organizations as well as locals can maintain the existing momentum, the development of the community-based tourism in villages in Myaing Township will effectively help tourism development in Myanmar.

The Myawady Daily

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