At least 100,000 international tourists visited the area in 2012, combined with a similar number of domestic visitors to the lake, giving a minimum base of 200,000 visitors annually, the organisations say.
“Through our research, which included extensive consultations in the Inle region, we found people, environment and infrastructure quite unprepared for this rapid increase in tourism. So there should be more focus on providing training and employment for local people,” IID director Joern Kristensen said last week.
An open group discussion took place on March 17 in Nyaungshwe, the main gateway to the lake, with participants from the local tourism sector. Other activities will include developing a visitor forecast model, preparation of guidelines for sustainable tourism development, training in tourism planning and conducting the first detailed survey of tourists in the region.
Minister of Hotels and Tourism U Htay Aung said the ministry was optimistic about the program’s prospects for success and the long-term sustainability of the lake. The regional tourism destination management plan will also include a proposal for the establishment and funding of a permanent tourism management body at the lake.