Pa-O region, part of the Southern Shan State is rich in tourist attractions. There are legacies of ancient cultures, places for rest and relaxation, well preserved forests and mountains with natural beauty suitable for eco-tourism. Three diverse ethnic groups the Shans, Pa-Os and the Inthas can also be found here, each with their own distinct cultures. Consequently the region has every opportunity for Community Involved Tourism (CIT) activities, increase incomes from the tourism industry and bring benefits to the local population.
Community Involved Tourism Pa-O Region (CITPAR) is a social business organization founded in 2014 by the Golden Island Cottages (GIC) Group, owned by the Pa-O National Organization (PNO) to implement Community Based Tourism (CBT) projects in the Pa-O region in Southern Shan state, Myanmar. As a social business organization, CITPAR aims to partner with local communities. CITPAR’s projects strive to be community driven and take into account the needs, concerns, and interests of local people. CITPAR focuses on the people who live in the Pa-O region and strives to benefit them by providing job opportunities and creating sustainable income for the communities. CITPAR has started its first CBT/CIT project, CIT Trekking Tour Program (CITOP), involving four villages from the Pa-O region in January, 2016. CITPAR has a long-term commitment and continues to provide training and support to the villagers to improve their livelihoods.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German development agency, supported the CITPAR via the Parami Development Network (PDN), a local NGO, to provide trainings to the villages and develop business models for the village committees and the CITPAR. With the support from GIZ, PDN and staff from CITPAR could visit the Community Based Tourism Institute in Chiang Mai (Thailand) to learn from their experience. The knowledge gained enabled PDN to provide useful trainings to the villages participating in CITPAR. Since the beginning of running the CIT projects, the Myanmar Ministry of Hotel and Tourism has been providing technical assistance to CITPAR.
The CITPAR Tour Program is run in cooperation with village committee members and CITPAR’s staff. Each participating village chose 15 committee members, working together with CITPAR’s staff to build or renovate community houses for the customers’ accommodation, sending local workers to trainings, and preparing the CITPAR tour program. Since the launch of CITPAR, the committees have been taking the responsibility of bringing the customers to the village, hosting them at the community houses, serving food and beverages, and organizing entertainment and community learning activities.
Contributions to the Community
As CITPAR was founded with the aim of developing communities in the Pa-O region, at least 65% of CITPAR’s income goes directly to local staff and participating villages. For example, when a visitor hires a local porter for visiting participating villages, the porter receives the full amount paid by the visitor for his/her service. Also service fees for special arrangements in the villages like entertainment and village activities together with a visitor fee go directly to the village fund. CITPAR also directly contributes to the village funds of each participating village for village developments. CITPAR provides handmade souvenirs trainings to local villagers for getting additional income by selling those souvenirs to visitors.
The objectives are …
• to keep the local culture alive
• to inspire people in the villages to appreciate good education
• to revive traditional handicraft, culture and customs
• to provide additional income in the villages to improve the livelihoods of villagers
• to support youth and women by generating employment opportunities
• to create responsible tourism in our region
• to conserve natural recourses and the environment for the next generations
The project is winner of the Award TO DO! 2017
More information: www.cit-paoregion.com
Text: CITPAR, from the project´s website