Govt eyes Chin State as tourist destination
10 March 2013: The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism said Chin State would be upgraded for a tourist site as the number of foreign visitors to Burma’s poorest area is on the rise.
The official announcement was made on Monday following a visit to Chin State by Union Minister U Htay Aung from 1 to 4 March 2013.
Measures are being taken to develop tourism in Chin State after it saw a surge in number of foreign tourists last year, according to the New Light of Myanmar.
Speaking to Chinland Guardian, Salai Thang, one of community leaders from Hakha, said: “This issue has to be dealt with great caution because it will have both negative and positive impacts.”
“We have been cut off from the outside world for decades and now the change is taking place so rapidly. The question is: are we really ready at this point of time to confront the influx of tourists as a society?”
Media reports from inside Burma said tourists are keen to travel to Chin State due to its rich culture and abundant physical attractions.
Chin traditions of facial tattoos and tribal customs, most of which remain ‘unexplored and unspoiled’, have drawn eco-tourists, according to tour agencies.
“With a rapid increase in tourism in a place like Chin State where people are not well-educated and informed, there has been concern that the local community might be negatively affected,” said Pastor Shwekey Hoipang, from the southern parts of Chin State.
U Htay Aung also said courses on tourism and hospitality would be given in Chin State in order to help ‘start the untapped new business model of tourism for its economic growth.’
“We have heard sad stories about exploitation of the Padaung women for tourist attractions in eastern Burma and Thailand. Promotion of tourism only for the purpose of economic advantages would eventually harm our society,” added the Chin pastor.
Chin State still remains a ‘restricted’ area for tourists who are required to obtain a special permit from relevant authorities to visit the mountainous western region of Burma.
However, tour companies and agencies said services of package they provide include necessary official documents for foreign visitors and tour guides during their trip.
Up to two million tourists are expected to visit Burma this year, according to a source from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.