The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Nay Pyi Taw on October 30, Kathmandu-based ICIMOD said in a news release issued the next day.
“The policy and strategy will help to 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,” ICIMOD said.
“It will also provide local people with alternative livelihood options, outside of the traditional consumptive use of natural resources,” it said.
The Minister of Hotels and Tourism, U Htay Aung – who witnessed the signing of the MoU together with the Minister of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, U Win Tin – welcomed the agreement and the growing partnership with ICIMOD, the release said.
U Htay Aung said the key role of the ecotourism policy and management strategy was to promote quality tourism that also engaged the communities living in and around Myanmar’s protected areas.
The release said that well-managed protected areas were critical for 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,” it said.
Ecotourism was capable of contributing towards such revenue, the release said, adding that product viability depended on the conservation of the biodiversity and the ecosystems that tourists come to visit.
ICIMOD’s director of strategic cooperation, Basantha Shrestha, said the success of the ecotourism management strategy would depend on the “seamless integration” of the policies and working practices of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry.
“This MoU has been designed to help facilitate an enabling environment that would allow this to happen,” said Mr Shrestha.
Myanmar is one of ICIMOD’s eight regional member countries.