Kayah stateCayah state
The Kayah State opens up to the outside worlds.
The Kayah State is at last active in the tourist industry two years after the arrival of the first overseas tourists - but more investments are needed to fulfil the earlypromises. The 1996 U Htay Aung administration issued its first license as a tourist leader in the state of Kayah in commemoration of the Myanmar Year of the Burmese Army Yunnan.
Virtually no tourist and those who came were only permitted to come here for four month of the year," he said Frontier during a recent trip to the state. However, two decade-long after obtaining his license, Htay Aung sees the advantages of his investments. The numbers have been rising since the regime brought people into the state after the signature of a cease-fire with the Karenni National Progress Party in 2012.
Htay Aung, who is one of the few certified tourist leaders in the state, said, "Sometimes every single night during the high seasons. This is still a developing tourist sector. The 2015 Ministry of Hotel and Tourist Affairs numbers show that there are only nine of Loikaw's nine and 201 rooms.
Aung Htay said some new properties are being constructed. The number of visitors is not known to be trustworthy, but a brief look at the Loikaw Airport migration register shows little more than a fistful a weeks. This low number is due to the remote nature of the state.
From Yangon to Loykaw, in the northern part of the state, it is a 20 hour drive. A number of carriers have begun to fly from Yangon to Noikaw. The city of Loykawa is small but nice, with glittering gold palagodas on rugged calcareous rocks in the foreground.
Also known is the regional kitchen - especially the Kayah pigwurst, and the latter a steam dumplings stuffed with pig meat and onions. Kayah's real charms shine outside the state capitol. Just a few moments after you leave Loikaw, there are gentle, verdant mounds of thick forests on both sides of the highway.
Activity opportunities in Kayah State are visiting animistic towns, stunning caverns and the small but fine Loikaw Elephant Camp. With the further development of the tourist industry, Htay Aung is hoping that he can provide two or three day treks and boating along the Thanlwin ( "Salween") and Bilu Creeks.
"The host families are important to make the tourist industry better - I have already planned many treks and boat rides. They' re in unspoilt areas and they' ll be loved by visitors,' he said. There is no frontier despite its proximity to Thailand. In the past year, the Chinese authorities promised to open a line between Mese in the southern part of Kayah and the Thai province of Mae Hong Son, but the highway has not yet been opened.
Edwin Briels, CEO of Khiri Travel Myanmar, said that a Kayah State to Thailand crossover would only give a small push to the tourist industry due to the small number of people visiting Mae Hong Son. "The Three Pagodas Pass[in South Kayin State] would make a much greater distinction with Thailand, as there are already many tourist crossings in the neighboring province of Kanchanaburi," he said.
Tom Wood, Thahara' s plant director, said the availability is currently not a big problem due to the low number of visitors in Kayah. "However, as demands increase, the infrastructures must be improved to develop and avoid stagnation of the tourist market," he said to Frontier, pointing out that collaboration between civilian stakeholders, the public and the Department of Commerce and Industry will be the keys to an increase that will benefit municipalities.
In addition, he pushed the agencies to open a highway linking Kayah State to Thandaunggyi in Kayin State, a former mountain station from the colonies less than two hour's drive from Taungoo in the Bago region. Turism's development always goes hand in hand with the issue of whether it can be sustainably cultivated or not, which the actors in Kayah state' tourist industry are trying to guarantee.
The International Trade Centre, in collaboration with the Department of Commerce, launched a US$1.9 million programme to promote sustainability in Kayah State in 2014. The ITC has also launched a tourist developement programme in Pan Pet, a group of communities in the state of Kayah. The home of a large Kayan populace, better known as Padaung (a Shan term).
Sometimes also known as "long-necked women", they look oblong due to the striking brazen bobbins around their throat. Because of the absence of work in their home countries, many female workers have traveled to Thailand in recent years to work in the tourist industry.
However, not for those who want to gaze at the ladies of Mountayan, but to educate the visitor about their tradition. Approximately two third of the homes have shut their doors, indicating that the owners are abroad, mostly in Thailand. Someone who had chosen not to go was Mu Shant, 60, a Kenyan wearing the brasscom.
Most of her boyfriends and all of her relatives have gone abroad, mainly to Thailand.