“If tourism growth is to be sustainable, we need more coordination between local authorities, business and communities, and increased local participation.” This was the conclusion of a multi-stakeholder workshop on Responsible Tourism and Human Rights in Myanmar held in the capital Naypyidaw from September 30 to October 2.
Hosted by the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the workshop was attended by over 100 participants from diverse bodies associated with the country’s burgeoning tourist industry. On the agenda were waste and water management, safety, access to land and relocation of communities, and tourism’s impact on children. Local participation in planning at tourism destinations was top of the list.
Vicky Bowman, director of the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business believed the workshop demonstrated how the industry needed to work closer together.
“This meeting highlighted how transparency, constant communication, and the sharing of lessons learned and different perspectives facilitates better decisions on how to develop tourism sustainably,” she said.
Achim Munz, resident representative of the Hanns Seidel Foundation Myanmar, agreed.
“This Naypyidaw workshop demonstrated the need for local level multi-stakeholder discussions on how tourism is developing in Myanmar’s established and emerging destinations,“ he said.
The workshop also provided an opportunity to review progress on the government’s 2013 Tourism Master Plan. Many participants noted that while the policies set a strong framework for the involvement of local communities in tourism, this was not taking place in practice, which some attributed to the need for increased financial and technical support from donors along with political will.
Participants heard some positive developments in the area of community involvement in tourism (CIT) from groups involved in diverse projects. The workshop also provided an opportunity to consider tourism from a human rights perspective and to discuss ways in which tourism could simultaneously draw on and support the conservation of Myanmar’s cultural and natural heritage.