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Sustainability is a never-ending path, a series – Part 1: Myanmar

  • By Easia Admin
  • July, 25, 2018

 

From Easia Travel’s sustainability policy…

At Easia Travel, we place sustainability at the core of our actions. Not as a trend, not as a sales tool, but rather as an utmost necessity. Because we are locally based, work in each of our countries, and love to help people to travel across them, we deeply understand our responsibilities and want to act in the best interests of the people and the environment here, in each of our five destinations: Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand.  

From eco-lodges and the surreal, yet beautiful landscapes of Vietnam to eco-friendly cycling tours all over Cambodia, we are expanding our reach from our own offices and behaviors to the rest of our destinations and activities. As the demand for more sustainable travel increases, we strive to get ahead of the curve and spearhead relationships with Cambodia’s ‘Pour un sourire d’enfant’ (PSE) NGO to aid in fighting poverty and education inequality in Phnom Penh, as well as spearheading our own projects like “Refill, Not Landfill,” for which guests are given a reusable water bottle to cut down on plastic waste and pollution.

The possibilities and opportunities are particularly active here in Myanmar. The country is undergoing rapid development and measurable changes: the timing is perfect to establish sustainable goals and habits, especially when it comes to Myanmar’s rich cultural heritage. From their many distinct cultures and ethnic groups to the thousands of gilded pagoda and stupas, guests will find themselves not only engaged in our sustainable projects but also that they are working on the cutting edge of sustainable development in a new, exotic country.

We have plenty of opportunities for guests to stay in Burmese villages, like the Tamarind Lake Village Home, which provides the village much-needed support, since its agrarian economy relies on the whims of the dry seasons. However, we also encourage guests to truly make a difference in places like the The Minsontaung Tortoise Sanctuary, which safeguards the endangered Burmese tortoise and allows them to enter their natural habitat once more, as well as take the path less traveled in an eco-friendly way; traveling by boat and ox-cart will bring guests to the truly authentic and rarely visited Kyun Thiri, a quaint village, not far from Bagan. 

… to an official recognition

Since February 2nd, 2018, Easia Travel Myanmar has been a dedicated Travelife Partner. 

Travelife, which has been established with the support of the European Commission, is one of the leading international sustainability certifications for the travel sector (www.gstcouncil.org). As they put it, they are “a fair and affordable system which helps tour operators and travel agencies to manage and improve social and environmental impacts by complying with sustainability criteria.” The award is a recognition for the long-term efforts and frontrunner position of Easia Travel regarding sustainability and corporate social responsibility. In Myanmar, Easia Travel is the 14th company that operates in the country to have reached the Travelife Partner award.

The title of Travelife Partner means that we are complying with more than 100 criteria, related to operators’ office management, product range, international business partners, and customer information. The Travelife standard covers the ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including the environment, biodiversity, human rights, and labor relations. These ideas and themes are also formally recognized as in full compliance with the UN-supported Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, and Easia Travel Myanmar is now working hard towards full certification.

 

Making sustainability into reality: A “green” day in Bagan

In order to achieve the partnership, we created a complete program focusing both on the discovery of sustainable projects in Myanmar and on sustainable ways to travel through the country. Apart from this program, we can offer a whole range of restaurants and activities that we have selected and decided to work with that are both unique and sustainable. When the travelers are in Bagan, for instance, we can select some of those to not only enrich a guests’s experience but to help preserve the nature and culture of the location and people.

A guest would begin with eco-transport. Most of our destinations can be explored in a non-polluting way. The travelers can hop on a bike and find the hidden temples of Ava, paddle in the floating gardens of Inle Lake on a kayak, or mingle with locals onboard the circular train and the local buses in busy Yangon. We have many ways to help the travelers reduce their footprint in comparison with a classical tour in Myanmar while immersing themselves even deeper in the local culture. In Bagan, guests would take an electric scooter or a bike and completely immerse themselves in the many, many temples, discovering them one after another.



When guests get hungry, the Sanon Restaurant will be more than happy to welcome them for lunch. The Sanon, whose name means “turmeric” in Burmese, provides quality hospitality training for marginalized youth to help them secure better job opportunities in their futures. Each year, they welcome 30 students for a 12 to 18month hotel and restaurant training program. Students also receive support for accommodation, health check-ups, English lessons, and life skills training. After the training period, Sanon Restaurant assists them in finding a job in Myanmar’s hospitality industry. Income from the restaurant helps pay the full-time staff, while the other expenses rely on donations and funding.

The afternoon would be a good time to visit the Taung Bi Library, a community project that we opened in Bagan in February 2016. The library plays a key role in the Taung Bi village by giving the villagers free access to general knowledge, as well as providing the children with a safe place to learn, read, and play after school. The villagers were faced with limited access to educational reading materials, despite their desire to learn more. Thanks to this project, the residents of Taung Bi now have an opportunity to increase their level of English, along with their general education. The travelers are most welcome to pay a visit, see the project or help us improve the place by gardening and bringing donations such as books or school supplies.

What if the travelers wish to give a closer look to local craft? Mboutik is waiting for them! It is a fair-trade shop located in Nyaung-U that collaborates with around 250 artisans from 130 villages. The project principally targets women in the ‘dry zone,’ where 40% of the population lives under the poverty line. ActionAid provided the women with training, microfinance support, and a new distribution channel to help them compete with the Chinese market. The women learn new techniques and skills, helping them reach financial independence, and rejuvenating an enthusiasm for the Burmese arts and crafts, all while branding their quality both locally and abroad. There, the travelers have the possibility to buy souvenirs or tailor-made items, to visit their workshops, and to learn their traditional techniques.

Another option could be to head earlier in the day to the Myaing Community Lodge, near Bagan, where the focus goes on the village experience and encounter while helping the local community. Most villagers in the dry zone rely on farming, but climate change has taken its toll on the agriculture, which has since become a dangerously unreliable source of revenue. In order to generate sustainable job opportunities for the young villagers and help them learn new skills, ActionAid, in partnership with the local communities, built a sustainable community lodge to welcome visitors. The travelers can there meet with the local communities, observe their daily routine, share a meal with them, and explore the surroundings by bike. They would spend the night on spot to get a deeper understanding of the local life and of how a community lodge is run.

(Copyright: Myaing Community Lodge)

These are only a few examples of the numerous projects we wish to support and share with our guests. We inspire and drive ourselves with these values of Easia Travel, and we hope to instill respect and an understanding of these values in all our guests. Driven by the passion for our commitment and the honesty to be as transparent as possible with everyone from our guests to our guides, we want to bring the ultimate in creativity and positivity in our work. Because we care about humans, as well as intangible cultural heritage and the environment, we want to keep enhancing, developing, and improving ourselves in an increasingly more sustainable way.

If you have any further question, do not hesitate to contact us via sustainability@easia-travel.com!

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