Managing Tourism Under Strain in Myanmar
Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. Many poor countries see tourism as a way to alleviate poverty and they create special programs to promote it. Tourism, however, can also be destructive to both the environment and to local communities, leading many governments and international agencies to propose a new form of community-based tourism. This new form draws local communities into the planning and management of important tourist destinations. Myanmar illustrates some of the aspects of Community Based Tourism, but it has other distinguishing features as well. Myanmar is just now moving from more than half a century of repressive military rule to a system espousing greater democratic and free market processes. It also has a large number of extremely important tourist attractions, especially those related to its long Buddhist history. This case study focuses on the attempt to promote tourism at a site in remote, but historically significant, Mrauk-U that is undergoing some development and some strain. In this area, a more progressive and inclusive central government is encouraging the development of local associations and working with them to press for more effective local government. In this context, a strong local civil society is emerging, with new organizations pushing the local government to be more open and engaged with the community.
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