During a three-day workshop for tour operators, Kayah State was heaved into spotlight as a new tourist destination. The event was organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) at Yangon on March 23-25, in co-operation with the Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) and Myanmar Tourism Marketing (MTM).
The objective of the workshop was to develop Myanmar’s booming tourism industry even a step further. Thus, tourism developments in Kayah State will be promoted with the help of the Netherlands Trust Fund, which is funded by the Dutch Government.
Kayah State has an area of some 4530 square miles and a population of a quarter million, mostly Red Karen tribal peoples. Well-known are the women of the Kayan sub-tribe, also called Padaung, who wear exotic copper-rings in the years to become real woman. Some experts say that these copper-rings are protecting from tiger attacks.
The capital of Kayah State is Loikaw, which can be reached by air, train or road. It borders Shan State in the north and Kayin State in the west and south. The mighty Thanlwin River (Salween) cuts through Kayah State, which is divided into seven districts. Its eastern border is with Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province. From within Myanmar, Loikaw can be easily reached from the new capital Nay Pyi Taw, which is further in the west. Places of much interest are Taunggwe Pagoda Complex and the impressive Lawpita Falls.
According to an article in The Myanmar Times, there is a five-year project in place to help local government and communities in Kayah State to develop new products and services to meet the expectations of international tourists while respecting local traditions and the environment.
Besides in Yangon and Mandalay, the growing number of tourists visiting Myanmar is putting increased strain on established destinations such as Bagan, Inlay Lake/Shan State and Ngapali/Rakhaing State. There are concerns over the environmental and cultural impacts, as well as the effect on the future of the industry, if prices rise too high due to a lack of hotels and other facilities.
Tourism planners hope to spread the load more evenly by developing secondary destinations, which would also offer tourists more reason to come back for additional visits. “Western tourists are coming to Kayah State because of their interest in different cultures, races and traditions. Because of its nearness to Shan State, which also attracts tourists, we could create a bigger market, in which Kayah State would become a tourist destination,” Dr. Aung Myat Kyaw, Managing of Orchestra Travel, said adding, “We aren’t yet hearing of a hotel room shortages in Kayah State. But we need to ensure good service standards, or tourists won’t come.”
Written by : Reinhard Hohler