Who we are
Tourism Transparency is a small independent non-government organization campaigning for an open and accountable tourism industry in Myanmar/Burma. Our aim is to contribute to the development of responsible tourism in Myanmar by raising awareness and facilitating informed choices of tourists, government, industry and civil society. We focus on strengthening Myanmar tourism stakeholders, including civil society, in tourist areas of Myanmar, with the aim of enabling them to take a leading role in shaping the future of responsible tourism in Myanmar.
Our core aim, to facilitate informed decision-making of Myanmar tourism stakeholders, shows what role we wish to assume. We believe in a bottom-up approach and therefore see ourselves firstly as facilitators, mediators, and information-providers. We believe that ultimately all decisions relating to tourism development, particularly in remote poor communities, need to be made by the people themselves. We aim to raise awareness and knowledge among a wide variety of Myanmar tourism stakeholders about a responsible and more equitable benefit sharing through tourism development.
What we do
Our purpose is to provide simple and transparent instruments to facilitate responsible tourism activities and assessments of the impacts of tourism.
Our objective is to raise awareness with tourists how to travel responsibly and provide them with a place to turn to if they have specific questions relating to tourism in Myanmar. We cooperate with a number of Civil Society Organisations in and outside of Myanmar and International NGOs to achieve maximum outreach. The map of Myanmar restricted areas is a good example to make people aware of the large areas of Myanmar that are still inaccessible to tourists. The map is frequently updated as more regions are opened, illustrating the gradual opening up of the country.
Over the past two years, we have conducted a number of responsible tourism capacity building initiatives in Myanmar, starting with community-based tourism seminars in 2011, lobbying the government for the establishment of a more inclusive responsible tourism forum and later attending the first ever responsible tourism conference in Naypyitaw in February 2012. Our contribution focused on pro-poor tourism and equitable benefit sharing and was well received. Tourism Transparency implemented the first action point of the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy, which was drafted after the conference. Under the ninth aim, ‘minimising unethical practices’, we are currently co-ordinating the Myanmar Do’s and Don'ts for Tourists project.
Addressing ethical guidelines and raising cultural awareness, the “Dos and Don’ts for Tourists” project was funded and supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and executed in close cooperation with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MoHT) and the Myanmar Tourism Federation (MTF). For this project, more than 350 tourism stakeholders were interviewed in five different tourism destinations in Myanmar from public and private sector as well as civil society groups. The research results were discussed and approved by representatives of 17 Ministries in Naypyitaw. The engagement of local cartoon artists make this initiative unique in that it has raised a lot of interest since its official launch in October 2012 not only from tourists and the tourism sector in Myanmar but also in other ASEAN countries. Local tourism companies now have the opportunity to sponsor the Dos and Don’ts initiative while pledging their support for responsible tourism in Myanmar. Tourism Transparency is working actively with the sponsors through capacity building, awareness raising and continued dialogue to support them on the road to responsible tourism.
We further actively engage in strengthening capacity on responsible tourism through workshops and seminars in Myanmar. Our focus on pro-poor tourism also critically examines the question whether and how tourism in Myanmar, which is known for its privileged access to state resources, can also benefit the local population in general and ‘the poor’ in particular. Tourism Transparency is also addressing how tourism stakeholders can take a human rights approach to tourism development. We are in the process of devising jointly with the Swedish Burma Committee a booklet for the Swedish tourism sector informing on Tourism and Human Rights and providing recommendations. Similar initiatives are underway with other European countries, like Poland, Germany and Spain.
A number of activities including workshops on responsible tourism development for the Myanmar tourism sector and other capacity building initiatives on a grassroots’ level are currently in planning.
The four pillars of our work
Pillar 1: Enable tourists’ informed decision-making in order to maximize the positive impacts of tourism on the environment and the local population. Our website provides information to interested tourists on:
a. The current political and socio-cultural situation in Myanmar
b. Responsible ways to travel in Myanmar
c. Relevant research and literature
d. A monthly newsletter informing on current events and featuring responsible tourism initiatives
Pillar 2: Contribute to the policy-making process by lobbying for and providing a dialogue platform to the Myanmar government to address the following issues:
e. Pro-poor tourism
f. Providing industry incentives and issuing laws for sustainability
g. Involving civil society access to decision-making about tourism
Pillar 3: Assist the private sector in contributing to responsible tourism development through:
h. Dos and Don’ts Sponsorship, direct engagement with the private sector members who have pledged their support for Responsible Tourism
i. Developing pilot projects integrating local communities, e.g. local food sourcing of restaurants / hotels; a sustainable village tour generating benefits to the community
j. Providing a platform for dialogue and promoting Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs)
k. Offering training on responsible tourism development to the Private Sector
Pillar 4: Strengthening Myanmar civil society
l. Capacity strengthening of NGOs: raising awareness on the pros and cons of community-based pro-poor tourism initiatives, and the negative impacts of tourism in particular
m. Train-the-trainer program (NGOs and local training institutes), e.g. awareness raising and capacity building in local communities and of street communities vendors
n. Facilitate networking about tourism with other NGOs and donors
Who is Tourism Transparency?
We believe that awareness is the key to a sustainable future. Tourism Transparency consists of a group of like-minded tourism experts who have joined together to support Myanmar along the road to a responsible tourism development. Most of our members of staff have a long-standing experience in tourism development and the development sector and have been working in the country and the region over the past years. This has allowed us to build up a wide network within the private and public sector as well as with civil society groups in Myanmar. We are also working with carefully selected volunteers and technical consultants who support our cause.