Study tour to Inle Lake: learning from one of Myanmar’s top destinations (en)
A three-day study visit to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s top tourist destinations, gave 12 representatives of the Kayah State local government, tourism associations and communities an opportunity to learn how to develop tourism sustainably.
Within the framework of its Netherlands Trust Fund III Myanmar inclusive tourism project, the International Trade Centre (ITC) organized the study tour partnering with the Inle Heritage Hospitality Vocational Training Center. The visit, which ran from 15-17 May, was aimed at raising participants’ awareness of quality and sustainability in tourism products and services, and international visitors’ expectations, as well as providing exposure to other aspects of tour development and craft production for tourists at Inle Lake.
ITC is working to improve Kayah State tourism products and services, including cultural tourism tours in two villages, Pan Pet and Htaa Nee La Le, and to build the capacities of local tourism-related associations and public offices. The key actors involved in these activities were invited to participate in the study tour, with priority given to those willing and able to promote sustainable tourism development in Kayah State.
‘Generally, people cannot improve their capacities without first visualizing, experiencing and understanding the standards they need to achieve,’ said Dr. Frederic Thomas, ITC lead consultant for activities in Kayah State, who accompanied and facilitated the study tour. ‘The selected participants demonstrated on several occasions their deep commitment to rethink and improve tourism products and services of Kayah State.’
The study tour combined practical exercises and conceptual inputs, discussions and experience sharing, activities in the training centre and outdoor visits. Participants learned about the complexity and holistic nature of tourism and acquired skills in hospitality, business and human resources management. They also heard about the importance of quality and sustainability, including the advantages of sourcing locally and operating in an environmentally responsible manner, learning for instance how to treat waste water in a natural way.
The group also visited an umbrella factory that is popular with tourists. While making their own mulberry-paper umbrellas, participants came to understand the positive impact that creative tourism activities can have on local communities.
‘I’ve attended many workshops in the past, but this one is by far the most innovative and fruitful workshop I’ve ever being part of,’ said Lwin Htet Aung, a tour guide and member of the Guides Association in Kayah State. ‘We’ve been through each node of the tourism supply chain, both experiencing and practicing either as a tourist or as a tourism professional. The study tour not only gave value to all tourism jobs, it also opened our eyes on the need to be more responsible and innovative in our approach.’
The benefits of the study tour didn’t end when the event itself wrapped up. In the coming weeks, the 12 participants – in the role of trainers – will lead restitution workshops to share what they learned with other members of their organizations, and to discuss how to apply their newfound knowledge to the reality of Kayah State.
‘The study tour was a great experience for the participants, as they were able to get in contact with new ideas, methods and practices that were difficult for them to understand without seeing them,’ said Daniel Stephan Ruggiero Ardila, an ITC volunteer. ‘Participants became more active, learning and getting new ideas with each activity. I am sure the restitution workshops will be fruitful.’