Com­mu­nity-based tourism com­ing to Chin State

The Myanmar Times - - News - EI EI THU eiei­thu@mm­times.com

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.

Photo: Staff

Vis­i­tors hike in Nat­mataung Na­tional Park in Chin State.

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