Burma Tourism BeachesMyanmar Tourist Beaches
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A pristine 15 km route of silver sands, and contemporary conveniences have made Ngwesaung a favourite spot for less price-conscious Lower Burmese people. Ngwesaung still has a lot to do. The choice for night life is also limited by night. The beaches of Chaungtha and Ngapali offer a wider range of nightlife.
In Ngwesaung, a near Elefant trainingsamp is one of the major attractions.
Myanmar forfeiting its beaches
The workmen are digging their buckets into the powdered gravel at Ngapali Strand, Myanmar's most important coastal town, and lifting it onto the lorry-bed. Denise HrubyPhotoA thriving building sector promotes illicit quarrying in Ngapali, Myanmar. A major constituent of concrete, it is an important part of almost every building, be it a high-rise or a town house, a highway or a huge crossroad.
However, the resources are limited, and as building in Myanmar and all of Asia is booming, industries have fueled the illicit extraction of sands - with severe consequences for Myanmar's natural surroundings and the nascent tourism industries. Very few travellers dared to enter the poorest country in Southeast Asia, and even fewer made it to Ngapali, embedded in the secluded Rakhine state in the west of Myanmar.
By 2011, fewer than 1 million foreigners ( "international visitors" included businessmen and tourists) have visited Myanmar every year. It is still the lonely, untouched haven that the West yearns for. Beaches are clean, shellfish crisp and fleshy. Strandverkäufer are as difficult to find as a mobile telephone call.
However, with the advent of global tourism, the number of hotels has more than doubled since 2012. The building boom and sandy, mostly directly from the beaches, is desperately needed. Ngapali beaches have become free for all. Very few have thought about the effects of the extraction of sands. However, Oliver E. Soe Thet, a round German who has adopted a name for Burma and who used to act as environment adviser to the jungle administration, is fully conscious of the environment tolls.
He' now documenting the exhaustion of the Ngapali beaches. According to Thet, the water line has already begun to decline because of the disappearance of sands. "You sometimes see 10 lorries here at once and they just shovel dirt on them until they're full," says Thet. A number of ramparts constructed to shelter Ngapali from years of storm and flooding have now sunk - a clear indication that the sands on which they were constructed are no more.
Although most of the sands are intended as food for building locally, some say that Ngapali's sands are also brought to the next larger city, where they are traded to intermediaries - but mostly the workmen shrug their feet when asked for the sands. No one I was interviewing seemed to know exactly where the wagonloads of sands land.
It is inherently non-transparent because of a lack of regulation, says Pascal Peduzzi, Director of the UN Environment Programme's Global Change and Vulnerability Unit and one of the few sandpaper trading specialists in the game. Following several complains from hoteliers, Myanmar repeated a prohibition on "digging up sandy beaches" in 2014, but this was never upheld.
It has been observed that in 2015 the extraction of grit has " drastically improved ", the paper says. There is a growth in global and not only Ngapali's market for sands. The UN says the world' s most highly extracted solids materials are grit and grit - at least 40 billion tonnes are required annually for this work.
However, according to Peduzzi, the question of illicit sandmining in Asia is particularly urgent. "He says, "Asia is growing and taking up most of the world's natural resources. Several of Singapore's epoch-making emblems, such as the Marina Bay Sands Casinoshotels, are sands. Sands used in Singapore already come from Myanmar.
Myanmar in 2010, the year the Burmese army began to relax the land and open its frontiers to foreign commerce, said it was exporting 2.2 billion lbs of 5.26 million US dollars' worth gold - all for Singapore. The Myanmar government does not tell where the imported sands are extracted.
Actual numbers could be much higher as there is no reporting of unlawfully extracted and trafficked sands. "It' s very hard to quantitatively detect the illicit trafficking that by nature is not reported," Peduzzi says. According to Bowmann, it is certain that clay will become an increasingly important resource in the years to come, if only because of its finite nature.
"is that the administration is not yet considering the economic value of sands. There' is no regulatory regime in Myanmar, although it has some of the biggest sandfields in Southeast Asia," she says, and adds that sands are not only extracted in Ngapali, but also further down the southern hemisphere and in water.
There was not much the Burmese government has done to control trafficking. However, the Ngapali community has recently joined forces with environmentalist groups and instructed the Ngapali POW to impose the prohibition, Thet. All in all, there are more urgent problems than removing sands, says Thet. The most powerful signal it can give is not one that affects the environment, but one that emphasises the long-term commercial impact of quarrying sand:
When the beaches lose their fine sands, tourism will come to a halt. "``No sands, no tourists'` is the basic embassy on some of the city' billboards. Beside the billboard, tyre marks are leading to a small trail down the shore. That'?s where the workmen lift sands. Thet says if nothing is done to stop them, the sands will be gone in two years.
"When we want a sandy shore in the near term, we need everyone on board," he says.