The workshop was co-hosted by Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) and Myanmar Responsible Tourism Institute (MRTI) from May 8 to May 9. The event was attended by the minister, regional government ministers, parliamentarians, Myanmar Hoteliers Association chair U Aung Myo Min Din, and approximately 80 local stakeholders and tourism professionals, ranging from hotel owners/ managers to local villagers, fishermen and environmental experts.
“Your destiny is in your hands,” U Ohn Maung told the locals and hoteliers, adding that the Ngapali City Development Committee (NCDC) was working to clean up streams and waterways but greater effort was needed from businesses to arrange proper garbage disposal. Local people also needed to take part and that government departments should work together with them.
He said that if the new arrangements were working well by next year, he would then take the steps to arrange for the airport to be expanded in order to encourage more tourism.
Waste management has been identified by the minister as the key challenge to be addressed before Ngapali’s runway can be extended to bring in more visitors and revenue.
U Saw Lwin, NCDC chair, noted that last week the municipality had acquired a new 3-acre landfill site for all users as part of the measure to improve waste management..
U Ohn Maung noted that new landfill sites had been acquired, along with bins, and that Myanmar people needed to be taught not to litter, starting in schools..
Foreigners, he observed, put the trash in their pocket to dispose of it properly later. Locals throw it out of the window. He called on people who saw someone littering to challenge them to pick it up and dispose of it in a proper manner..
The minister expressed his hope to come back next year and find Ngapali trash-free..
Vicky Bowman, MCRB director, said that the Steering and Working Committees for Ngapali Beach Sustainability, which were set up by the Rakhine State regional government, will need to collaborate closely with local businesses and residents to achieve a trash-free Ngapali..
“The workshop participants made concrete personal commitments to reduce litter such as hotels cutting back on the use of plastic bags and water bottles, providing bins and education campaigns in schools, and the need for local bye-laws and enforcement,” she said..
“It was good to hear the minister clarify that the 10-metre height limit for buildings close to the beach remains in place, not only in Ngapali but in seven other beach destinations in Myanmar,” Achim Munz, resident representative of the HSF, said..
“We also were pleased to hear him reiterate that there would be a clampdown by the local authorities on sand mining on Ngapali’s beaches,” he added..
Combating sand mining, among other environment issues, was also discussed in the workshop, along with mangrove deforestation, guesthouse licensing, human resources development and destination management. The MRTI briefed stakeholders on their ongoing study of the risks of child sexual exploitation, which was conducted with support from UNICEF, and with the approval of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.