Community-based tourism coming to Chin State
THE least developed state in Myanmar, Chin State, is implementing community-based tourism (CBT) in Kanpetlet township.
Forever Top Travel and Tours will begin prepping for business in Saw Loung village this month, with hopes of opening in October.
“Implementing community-based tourism in Chin State is mainly intended to create more job opportunities and reduce poverty,” Daw Zin Mar from Forever Top told The Myanmar Times. “We met and spoke with villagers interested in getting involved with CBT. We explained how we can help them earn income from that kind of work.”
The initial CBT project in Saw Loung village is near Natmataung National Park and is backed by ActionAid Myanmar, which will guide the process and offer suggestions.
Saw Loung village, which is a 15-minute drive from Kanpetlet, has only 31 households and a population of more than 170 people, but has a lot of potential for eco-tourism thanks to all the traditional culture, food, and natural scenery, Daw Zin Mar said.
“We’re going to build five buildings, each with double rooms in the style of Chin traditional houses, for tourist accommodation,” she said. “ActionAid will give hospitality training to villagers. Then we will start to transfer responsibilities to the villager so eventually they’ll be able to lead the CBT on their own.”
If they are free from construction delays, they hope to begin accepting clients during the tourist season in October. Bagan is only a five-hour drive away, she said.
“The Kanpetlet-Bagan Road is very convenient,” Daw Zin Mar said.
Chin State has much potential for tourism but it needs to implement basic transportation, communication and electricity infrastructure, said U Khin Aung Htun, joint secretary of the Myanmar Tourism Federation.
“We have to be careful to be aware of the supply and demand,” he said. “For example, the previous Inle hotel zone location was wrong and the Nay Pyi Taw hotel zone has a huge room surplus.”
Tourism is one of 21 small and medium business enterprises officials are nurturing in Chin State, Salai Isaac Khen, state minister for development affairs, electricity and industry, told The Myanmar Times. They will allow hotel construction permits and supply basic infrastructure for industry development, he said.
“Chin State has the right places to implement community-based tourism that will directly benefit locals if the projects are a success, which will increase taxes when it’s booming with tourists,” he said. “But we’re only permitting the hotels where many tourists come and won’t be implementing a hotel zone that can have an unnecessary impact.”
They are planning to continuously implement more CBT villages in northern parts of Chin State, in townships like Tiddim and Falam, after the success of the initial project.
“We won’t confirm which village will support the next CBT because we haven’t met and spoken with local people yet,” Salai Isaac Khen said.
According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, there are three hotels in Mindat township and one in Kanpetlet.
Visitors hike in Natmataung National Park in Chin State.