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Inle Lake faces tourist dilemma

Inle Lake. Photo: MizzimaA sharp increase in the number of visitors to Inle Lake in southern Shan State is forcing up the room rates at hotels and guest houses this season.

“Foreign tourists often don’t know what to do,” said local resident Mya Maung. “They expect to pay around US $25 per night for a room, but now the lowest rate you’ll find is between $60 and $70.”

Now, the Myanmar Hotelier Association has announced that a committee has been formed to solve such problems in the nascent tourism business.

According to Aung Kyaw Moe, the secretary of the Taunggyi Zone Hoteliers Association, the situation demands immediate attention.

“We need to be able to offer shelter to tourists,” he said. “That’s why the local authorities, along with community leaders, abbots and hotel owners have set up a committee to deal with providing sufficient accommodation to visitors.

“A failure to do so could adversely affect Myanmar’s tourism business,” he said.

The attraction of Inle Lake, combined with the popularity of the Taunggyi Balloon Festival, is the main reason for the increase in the region’s tourism this season, local businesspeople say.

Guest house owner Nyi Nyi Thin told Mizzima: “There are two ways of accommodating an increase in visitor numbers: one way is to expand the existing hotels; the other is to build more hotels.”

There are three hotels currently nearing completion in the Inle Lake area with several more in the planning stages.

The scenic lake is described by Lonely Planet travel guides as: “A wonderful watery world of floating gardens, stilted villages and crumbling stupas, Inle Lake is an absolute must.”

Inle Lake is one of Burma’s best known attractions. Its indigenous Intha people are renowned for their unique leg-rowing technique for transporting visitors across the water. However, in recent years, many voices have appealed to the authorities with concerns that if more tourist facilities are allowed to be built along the lake’s shores, the lake’s fragile ecosystem will be in serious danger of collapsing.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 02 December 2012 11:36 )  

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