Two Moken villages in Southern Myanmar, Don Nyaung Mai Village in Myeik, and Makyone Galat Village in Kawthaung, will form Community Based Tourism (CBT) areas in 2019.
Moken are a group of people known as sea gypsies who traditionally lived on the Andaman Sea in Southern Myanmar in their hollowed out wooden boats. They thoroughly know the waters, and they allegedly warned other locals before the 2004 tsunami hit the area. Thanks to their warning, some of those people managed to escape the tsunami, according to local media outlets.
Now, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is conducting feasibility studies in these two villages to implement the planed CBT.
By doing so, local communities will have job opportunities and visitors can learn about Moken’s pearl hunting and fishing.
However, a new generation of Moken are changing life styles, and the population has dwindled to only around 2,000 according to the census data in 2017. Civil societies often urge the government to protect them.
“Our department is doing field study. CBT can enable visitors to learn about the culture and traditions of Moken, and eventually improve socio-economic condition of the local communities,” U Nyo Aye, Director from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, told Myanmar Business Today.
Most of the visitors to Myeik Archipelago are Thai citizens. There were 339,000 tourists visited the archipelago through the southernmost border gate in 2016, 343,000 tourists in 2017, and 350,000 tourists were estimated to have visited in 2018.
Starting in 2003, Myanmar has been implementing CBT around the country. In Yangon, Mandalay, and Magway Regions, as well as Indawgyi area in Kachin State, Saw Long village in Chin State, villages in Shan State, and villages in Pao. There are around 13 CBTs in the country.
For more information, you can visit the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s official website http://tourism.gov.mm, or to visit this stunning archipelago where the Moken live, visit https://www.burmaboating.com/experience/ for cruise information.