Annual Report 2015: Policy engagement 

Ecotourism Policy Crafted for Myanmar’s Protected Areas 

Tourism in Myanmar is relatively new and expanding quickly, and developments now will set the course for the future. If the tourism economy develops in the wrong direction, it can damage the same cultural heritage and natural resources that draw visitors in the first place.

To encourage growth that is green, people-friendly and sustainable, ICIMOD collaborated with the Government of Myanmar to craft an Ecotourism Policy and Management Strategy for Protected Areas, which lays out a strategy for promoting tourism and economic growth while safeguarding vulnerable areas. The policy has been approved by the government. 

ICIMOD worked closely with the government agencies involved in tourism, natural resources, and environmental conservation to balance the seemingly disparate concerns of each sector. The proposed next steps include the launching of a pilot and working with the management framework in legal terms, so that each category of protected area will have relevant legislation. 

The Myanmar model is also reflected in work in Bangladesh, where a similar policy is being developed for the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Ecotourism will not only benefit the protected areas through conservation, but also local communities through employment, capacity development, and as an alternative source of livelihood.
U Htay Aung, Minister of Hotels and tourism, Myanmar