Myanmar Looks to Ecotourism for Sustainable Development

Tourism in Myanmar is booming. In 2011, the country had less than 1 million visitors; in 2015 it had 4.6 million visitors, who spent $2.2 billion during their stay.

With its mix of culture, history, and natural beauty, Myanmar has quickly become one of Asia’s top emerging tourist destinations. To get the most out of tourism’s contribution to socioeconomic development, the government is putting in place policies and building and upgrading infrastructure to promote sustainable tourism growth.

Ecotourism has played only a small role in Myanmar’s tourism boom. Even so, the country’s Tourism Master Plan, 2013–2020 recognizes its considerable potential. If properly planned, ecotourism should not only help spur economic growth but also contribute to nature conservation and provide livelihood benefits to local communities.

In 2014 and 2015, the CEP mobilized a team of experts to support the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism to develop an ecotourism strategy. We assessed the state of conservation and tourism in 22 protected areas designated as having ecotourism potential.

The findings identified both risks and opportunities. For example, potential risks of tourism to cultural practices or endangered biodiversity, and opportunities such as features of interest to tourists and income generation activities for local livelihoods. The CEP’s assessment featured prominently in Myanmar’s Ecotourism Policy and Protected Area Management Strategy, 2015–2025.

“Visitors have been keen to experience Myanmar’s world renowned cities and unique, unspoiled cultural heritage. Accompanying this growth is a new demand, especially from discerning international travellers, to explore Myanmar’s natural heritage in a way that is sustainable and aligned to principles of green growth.”
--U Htay Aung, former Union Minister, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar

Publish Date: 31st March 2018

See more content: Strategic Planning Myanmar

See also

Building Environmental Impact Assessment Capacity in Cambodia

31st March 2018

When Chea Leng learned about environmental impact assessment (EIA) in the mid-1990s it was a concept few in Cambodia knew much about. Two decades on, the country’s attempts to mainstream EIA have met with mixed results. But Leng, who is the deputy director of the Ministry of Environment’s Environmental Impact Assessment Department, believes that is soon going to change.

More details

Improving Land Use Planning in the Greater Mekong Subregion

31st March 2018

Land use is constantly changing in the GMS. Yet government planners are often poorly informed on land use processes, which risks decisions being made that may lead to social and environmental costs that outweigh the intended benefits. For example, a forest cleared for timber or commercial plantations might, due to poor land use planning, affect water and soil quality and negatively impact nearby agriculture.

More details
Back to Online Library