Myanmar Aims to Harmonise Hotel Industry, Environment

The newfound political stability in Myanmar since the peaceful transition to democracy began two years ago has led to a boom in the country’s hotel industry, buoyed by the influx of tourists.

But in the rush to construct more hotels to provide accommodation for the bourgeoning tourism sector, issues related to environment and environmental conservation have been glossed over.

Not anymore.

Authorities have begun taking a closer look at environment issues facing the hotel industry, such as sanitation and wastewater treatment, and environment activists are calling for stricter enforcement of regulations.

There are 1590 hotels and guesthouses with a total of 69,370 rooms operating in the country.

According to the Hotel and Tourism Ministry, most hotels and guesthouses are located in popular tourist destination, such as Yangon, which has 380; Mandalay, 201; Bagan-Nyaung, 85; Nay Phi Taw, 64; and Inle-Nyaung Shwe, 104.

More hotels are under construction in low travel areas from throughout the country in anticipation of more tourists coming in.

But of all these over 1500 hotels, only five were recipients of the ASEAN Green Hotel Awards held at the recent ASEAN Tourism Forum 2018 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The five hotels are in Pyin Oo Lwin, Kalaw, Nyaug Shwe, Ngwe Saung and Kawthaung.

This figure is too low compared to other ASEAN countries. The organisers of the award place emphasis on the environment-friendliness of the hotels.

Its criteria include wastewater management and treatment, environmental policy and actions for hotel operation, use of green products, collaboration with community and local organizations, solid waste management, and toxic and chemical substance disposal management.

Only five hotels in Myanmar met the ASEAN Green Hotel Awards standards.

U Myo Win Nyunt, director of Ministry of Hotel and Tourism, admitted the ministry does not have a team to monitor waste disposal and wastewater treatment facilities of hotels.

“We mainly checked the services section in hotels and not sanitation,” he said.  “Also there have been no instructions to check sanitation again. But the municipality should check these details,” he said.

Indeed, regional officials have started actions to make the hotels more environment-friendly.

The Department of Hotel and Tourism in Mandalay released a directive in December 2017 for all hotels in the Bagan-Nyaung U region to install water purification systems and set up wastewater treatment facilities as soon as possible or face cancellation of their licenses.

The directive also warned that aside from cancellation of their licenses, they will file appropriate charges against violators.

The wastewater treatment equipment cost between K5 million and K30 million (US$3761 and $22,569) in the market. The prices of water purification system depend on the design and the number of rooms and the size of the hotel.

The developer have to draw first environmental management plan before installing these systems. Once the plan is drawn, the establishment has to submit it to the Environmental Conservation Department (ECD) under the ministry of Resource and Environmental Conservation.

The ECD will approve their proposal if it completes the standard and requirements set by the office. The ECD’s approval is needed to secure hotel construction permit and well as hotel operation license.

But U Sein Htoon Linn, deputy director general of Environmental Conservation Department, admitted that there were some establishments who were able to construct without proper wastewater treatment facilities.

“The properties come from Myanmar Investment Commission and the office used to submit to our department. But we don’t know detail whether other hotels apply (for EMPs),” he said.

U Khin Maung Win, environmentalist and managing director of Myanmar Water Engineering Products Company, called on the government to strictly enforce the regulations in hotel operations.

“Each hotel needs to come up with EMP report then ECD will review the report,” he said.  “Then the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism will evaluate if the EMP was implemented or not when the establishment apply for license or renew its license.”

 

Source: Myanmar Times

 

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