Field training marks latest step to develop cultural tourism in Myanmar’s Kayah State

5 August 2015
ITC News

Integrating local communities, producers and service providers into tourism supply chains in Myanmar is at the heart of the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) inclusive tourism project in the country.

The most recent step took place from May through July, when ITC experts worked with community members in Kayah State to discuss unique local attractions that are being developed into cultural tour activities. 

Inbound Myanmar tour operators will offer these activities to tourists in coming years.

Potjana Suansri and Peter Richards, international consultants for cultural tourism development, worked with ITC’s local team, Pascal Khoo and Winnie Mai, to explore the potential of developing cultural tourism in the Pan Pet and Hta Nee La Leh ethnic communities. Local community leaders and members also participated.

Feedback on the tours from the Union of Myanmar Travel Association,
Loikaw tour operators and government partners has been promising, Richards said.

Starting from the ground up

Short videos and group activities introduced community members to the concept of community involvement in tourism, addressing topics such as:

• What is tourism?
• Who are tourists and why do they wish to visit our village?
• What do we need to be able to do, to welcome and take care of guests?

A series of workshops and field surveys enabled community members to identify aspects of their lifestyles, cultures and natural surroundings that they are proud of and feel comfortable sharing with visitors.

Villagers in Pan Pet said they are keen for visitors to experience their weaving, traditional music and scenic mountain views. Residents of Hta Nee La Leh said they would like their guests to learn about their spiritual traditions, arts and food.

The ITC team is helping community members find ways to develop these unique offerings into marketable tourism services and activities.

Meeting increasing demand

The new tours respond to increasing demand in Western and Asian markets for ‘authentic’ local experiences. Increasingly, tourists are seeking meaningful connections with locals. In other words, they wish to ‘make friends’ before taking photos with them.

The new tours will provide opportunities for hosts and guests to share experiences. Hands-on activities will encourage visitors to spend more time in the villages and enjoy a richer experience, while injecting more income into local economies.

Myanmar tour operators will benefit by being able to offer their international business partners new, high-quality experiences. Tour operators and the media will be able to experience the new tours during a familiarization trip set for November.

Richards urged Myanmar tour operators to ‘visit Kayah and take the opportunity to survey these new cultural tours, which will give your guests an incomparable opportunity to share life in a rural, ethic community’.

For more information or to learn about the site visit, Richards can be reached at Peter.e.richards [at] (Peter[dot]e[dot]richards[at]gmail[dot]com).

The ITC inclusive tourism project in Myanmar aims to enhance trade competitiveness of the tourism sector in Kayah State. The project is part of the Netherlands Trust Fund III, which is based on a partnership agreement between ITC and the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI).