Thursday, November 8, 2012

Burma’s guide to Responsible Tourism

Thursday, 08 November 2012 17:16 Mizzima News

Tourism Transparency, an NGO that advocates responsible tourism to Burma, has published a booklet called “Dos & Don’ts for Tourists”—a guidebook targeted at foreign visitors who may be unaware of many of the customs in the Buddhist country.

The 30-page booklet features anecdotes, language tips and cartoons by some of Burma’s favorite illustrators: Ngwe Kyi, Thit Htoon, Harn Lay, Aw Pyi Kyeh and Chit Thu.

Dos & Don'ts for Tourists

Coordinated by Tourism Transparency founder Dr. Andrea Valentin, and supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and Burma’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, the guidebook has been released at a time when tourism arrivals are projected to increase exponentially in Burma.

The guide outlines taboos and cultural faux-pas, some of which many Westerners in particular might regard as cultural quirks, such as sitting with one’s feet facing toward the statue in a Buddhist temple or kissing in public, but which can often offend Burmese.

Other tips are offered to avoid dangerous misunderstandings. Visitors could be forgiven, for example, for not knowing that taking photographs of pregnant Akha women is a grave taboo.

“Tourists should take responsibility for their own impacts,” Valentin told Mizzima on Thursday. “And for Burma as a host, it means that the different stakeholders involved in tourism—government, industry, communities, NGOs, etc—take responsibility for the impacts of tourism.”

Valentin said she travelled around the country for five weeks and interviewed some 350 people from all walks of life—trishaw drivers, pagoda trustees and monks, ethnic villagers, tour guides, hoteliers, embassy staffers—and asked them what the main issues should be, and how to communicate them to visitors.

Some 5,000 copies of the Dos & Don’ts for Tourists have been printed and are now in the process of being distributed among media, embassies, NGOs, schools, tourist businesses and government offices.

You can download your copy here:

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