Kayaking Tour: Making a Difference in Myanmar
In Myanmar, we actively seek responsible tourism projects to encourage community-based tourism (CBT). Read his blog post by General Manager Edwin to learn about our efforts in promoting tourism development to benefit the local Burmese, Karen and Mon people of Kayin State, Myanmar.
We are always looking for ways to develop responsible tourism to make a difference for local people. Kayin State, Myanmar (or Burma), a beautiful mountainous region between Yangon and the Thailand border, is famous for its stunning limestone escarpments, caves and shimmering fields of rice paddies. The regional capital is Hpa An, an easy day trip from Mawlamyine.
Khiri Travel Myanmar has initiated a CBT project offering kayak tours. We purchased five, 2-seater kayaks and designed a route through the flooded paddies. We asked Ma Hnin, a young woman who runs a restaurant near the popular Kaw Ka Thaung Cave, to maintain the kayaks and provide lunches for our guests. For guides we hired men from the village. Khiri Travel pays Ma Hnin and the guides a monthly fee. We estimate the project has served about 200 travelers generating about USD 10,000 for the community. We continue searching for English-speaking locals to hire as guides to serve more customers and work independent of our office in Yangon or via our partner in Mawlamyine.
Feedback from our travelers and guides indicated the kayak route was not sustainable during the rainy season due to changes in paddy water flow control. The new route, adapted so the workers could have income for the whole year, combines kayaking and a village walk, another tourism product for local villagers.
Subsequently, Burmese people going to nearby caves also became interested in kayaking. This responsible tourism project is now so successful that Ma Hnin has bought her own kayaks. Therefore we moved our kayaks to Inle Lake and now we rent Ma Hnin’s boats.
This CBT project has received attention from several NGO’s in Myanmar and from the Peace Nexus Foundation, an organization fostering the ongoing peace negotiations between the Kayin State ethnic peoples and the Myanmar government. These groups have identified tourism as a potential source of income to encourage peaceful interactions.
The newly opened Hpa An Lodge will be perfectly suitable for the higher end travelers. Our new package tour for this area of Myanmar, rather than going to temples and monuments, focuses on Kayin and Mon people. We believe in the end that the people are what makes an interesting trip for international visitors ot the beautiful country Myanmar is.
For more information about tour packages to Kayin State, Myanmar, and kayaking through some beautiful countryside, please leave your email address in the form provided below.