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New ideas for responsible tourism in Myanmar

How to become an environmental hiking guide in Kawthaung district

The typical tourist who arrives in Kawthaung, usually does not stop in the city or its surroundings, but immediately ventures on private boats to be immersed in the breath-taking nature of the Myeik Archipelago’s tropical islands, which looms on the horizon from the city coasts. These are exclusive cruises that unfortunately do not facilitate contact with rural communities and do not contribute to sustainable local economic development.

To offer an alternative to this type of unsustainable tourism, we asked Filippo Camerlenghi (outgoing president AIGAE - Italian Association of Environmental and Hiking Guides) to hold a course for environmental hiking guides in the Kawthaung district. Filippo accepted with enthusiasm: thus, from 24 to 27 April 2019, a group of 35 people, including tour guides and aspiring guides, had the opportunity to meet, to discuss how to enhance the cultural and natural wealth of their territory and to actively participate to a path that promotes sustainable and inclusive rural development.
Between lectures, group works and excursions, participants learned to rediscover the importance of guides in accompanying different types of tourists to discover the most beautiful places, such as special spots in the city, places of natural and local cultural interest. Together with the trainer they have traced emotional paths, because it is precisely emotions that transform any journey into an indelible memory of a place and its people. Thanks to this course, tourists, in the future, will have the opportunity to walk the streets of the city to discover traditions rich in colours, smells and rituals or to venture into nature to meet the communities of rural villages.

The initiative is part of the STAR project with which Istituto Oikos promotes innovative strategies for environmental protection and the development of responsible and inclusive forms of environmental tourism in the Tanintharyi Region.

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