COMMITTED TO RESPONSIBLE TOURISM

Given the tremendous potential of Myanmar as an emerging tourist destination in the global tourism market and the rapid change the country is currently experiencing, the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the Myanmar Tourism Federation recognized the risk of unsustainable tourism growth and negative impacts relating to culture, society and the environment. In response to this challenge, the first ever Responsible Tourism Conference was held in Naypyitaw in February 2012, followed by the drafting of the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy. The Responsible Tourism Policy lists priorities, roles and responsibilities for both public and private sector.

Under the ninth aim of the Responsible Tourism Policy, "minimising unethical practices", the first action point was to develop a code of conduct for international visitors. During the RT Conference in Naypyitaw and later during the research phase of the RT Policy, it was identified that tourist guidelines are urgently needed to raise visitor awareness about Myanmar culture environment and society.

The Dos and Don'ts for tourists project was proposed by Dr. Andrea Valentin, Founder and Director of Tourism Transparency, an NGO campaigning for an open and accountable tourism industry in Myanmar. The Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany passed the proposal to the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the Myanmar Tourism Federation to implement action immediately following the drafting of the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy. The proposal was accepted, and research began in June 2012.

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation, assisted the establishment of the tourism guidelines project, which combined research, design and development, printing and distribution of the 'Dos and Don'ts for tourists' cartoon guidelines. This project is a viable first step to create more aware visitors, and as such assists the momentous task of establishing sustainability in Myanmar. It is hoped that the guidelines will prove useful to new visitors who are not conversant with the plurality of Myanmar society.