Kathmandu– On Thursday, 30 October, in the presence of Union Minister U Htay Aung of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the Union Minister U Win Tun of the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to facilitate the development of Myanmar’s Ecotourism Policy and Management Strategy for protected areas.
The policy and strategy will help celebrate and promote the natural and cultural assets of Myanmar’s unique protected areas, from Lampi Marine National Park in the south to the Hkakaborazi National Park in the north. It will also provide local people with alternative livelihood options, outside of the traditional consumptive use of natural resources.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MOHT), in collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF) and the Myanmar Tourism Federation (MTF), is leading the process of collecting inputs from a variety of stakeholders on their views and experiences with ecotourism.
U Htay Aung, Union Minister of the MOHT, welcomed the signing of the agreement and the growing partnership with ICIMOD. He noted that the Ecotourism Policy and Management Strategy’s key role is promoting quality tourism that also engages the communities living in and around Myanmar’s protected areas.
Individual protected areas are part of national protected area networks formed to conserve representative examples of nature-based assets and ecosystems. Well-managed protected area networks are critical to both biodiversity conservation and arresting climate change. Despite these critical roles, it is often challenging for governments to generate an economic return from these areas, or from wider government revenues, to cover their conservation management costs. Ecotourism to protected areas is an activity capable of contributing towards such revenue, as product viability depends upon the conservation of the biodiversity and the ecosystems that tourists come to visit.
Basanta Shrestha, Director of Strategic Cooperation at ICIMOD, emphasized that the success of Myanmar’s Ecotourism Management Strategy depends upon the seamless integration of the policies and working practices of MOHT and MOECAF. This MOU has been designed to help facilitate an enabling environment that would allow this to happen.
Myanmar is one of ICIMOD’s eight regional member countries. It has been a member since the Centre’s founding, with MOECAF as its focal ministry.