There is no doubt in the tourist industry that an intact
environment is a precious possession that needs special care. The slogan
'gentle tourism' is no mere eyewash: It is a fact that many tourists are
rather sensitive in this respect. A rubbish heap in an otherwise beautiful
countryside or next to a magnificent temple can spoil the experience
completely. Therefore it is to everybodyís advantage to work for a clean
The infamous resources- and countryside-devouring tourism
so well known in other countries so far doesnít exist in Myanmar. One of
the most clinching proofs are the numerous new golf greens in
neighboring Thailand, where farmers and golf courses compete for the
scarce water - the outcome is predictable...
We are confident to have the means to make the owners of
hotels and restaurants see our point in this context: No orderly garbage
disposal and sewage treatment - no clients from our side!
Please get us right: We donít expect to be able to easily arouse any
environment consciousness. From our point of view it would be a great
leap forward if all those involved in tourism would realize the
importance of that goal. In this aspect we take great care to make sure
that our contract hotels have a regular garbage disposal. The same
applies to sewage treatment.
In fact the problem of garbage is a relatively new one in this country:
Non-degradable garbage (meaning any garbage which cannot be eaten by
livestock) was virtually unknown until the 1980s. Since then the
introduction of plastic bags has put a heavy toll on the environment.
Another problem we observe is the ever increasing number of souvenir
dealers. I have seen many traditional markets going down the drain: Once
there was a nice market where local people sold vegetable, fruits etc;
it attracted tourists and suddenly the first souvenir dealers turned up
and by paying higher rents to the market authorities, they pushed the
traditional dealers, which might have been selling there for decades,
aside, whereas the dealers finally lost their livelihood.
We feel that we shouldnít encourage such developments and boycott those
markets dominated by souvenir dealers. The saddest example of such a
development is the formerly famous 'Floating Market' at Lake Inle.
Nowadays you wonít find any vegetable seller there...
In this way the souvenir sellers are killing their own business, too,
but unfortunately they donít realize it...therefore we hope to influence
the authorities concerned to put an end to this practice.
Every tour guide in this corner of the world is aware of the problem of
noise - clients who suffer from a lack of sleep are difficult clients!
For me itís always amazing to see that people in Myanmar as well as in
neighboring countries donít seem to have a problem with noise at all.
How many times have I envied the man slumbering like a baby next to a
concrete mixer on a rather busy road! Unbelievable! Therefore it is not
always an easy task to make the locals realize the problem...
Nevertheless we are sure that we can contribute at least a little to
make our clientís nights more quiet. Very often this requires only a
minor effort achieve this goal - generators might be too close to the
guest rooms; bus drivers may run up their engines in the middle of the
night or guest rooms could be simply too close to neighboring houses or
the next chicken shack. Not everybody is happy to participate that
directly in the 'peaceful' country life!
2008 Axel Bruns