YANGON—The awarding ceremony of the second Myanmar Responsible Tourism Awards was held at Chatrium Hotel in Yangon on Tuesday evening. The awards aim to raise awareness of the tourism industry’s potential to generate meaningful social, economic, and environmental benefits for Myanmar and its people and this year, nominees from the Inle Lake area took home three of the seven awards on offer.
The event was organized by the non-profit organization Myanmar Responsible Tourism Institute (MRTI) and their ambition is to use tourism to make places better for people to live and to encourage change in the industry, said U Nyunt Win Naing, chairman of MRTI.
“We want to encourage change in the industry and to single out for recognition those who are taking responsibility and can show evidence that they are having a positive impact towards responsible and sustainable tourism in Myanmar,” he said.
“These awards recognize those who are working to help Myanmar’s tourism industry develop in a way that promotes our unique environment, our culture and our people.”
This year, MRTI awarded seven awards in six different categories and each application went through a shortlisting process. The winners were chosen by a group of seven judges who are experts from the travel and tourism sector. They chose a winner and runner up for each category.
Inle Princess Resort took home the prize for Best Responsible Tourism Accommodation, Inle Horse Club won Best Tourism Business Innovation and Inle Canoe Lady won Best Tourism Product for Empowerment. Ayeyarwady Dolphin Conservation and Ecotourism won Best Community Involvement in Tourism and Green Hill Valley Elephant Care Camp won and Best Responsible Tourism Awareness-Raising Project.
There were two prizes awarded for the Best Responsible Tourism Operator category: Sampan Travel won the award and Myanmar Adventure Outfitters won the newcomer prize for same category.
“Since 2014, we started running Inle Horse Club as our family business, because my wife loves to ride horses so much. She used to go to the local horse gate to ride whenever she had time and learned the struggles of horse cart drivers. We wanted to enhance employment opportunities for the local horse trainers and to make a different kind of tourism for Nyaung Shwe so we launched Inle Horse Club,” said U Yae Aye, an owner of Inle Horse Club.
He added that, “We are also supporting children’s education and tree-planting. The guests have to plant a tree when they visit our horse club. We have rules that are ‘one person, one horse, one tree.’ We made those because we want to support and help our environment.”