Inclusive Tourism Needed in Bagan
Three Treasures Responsible Tourism & Trading is the first social enterprise of its kind in Bagan. We are a local social business working together with local communities in and around the protected monument zone to develop the capacity of local people to increase their benefits from the increasing numbers of tourists arriving each year.
Unfortunately, most local people do not share the benefits of tourism to Bagan. Despite the buses of tourists that may pass through during the high season, many do not work directly in the tourism industry with its relatively high salaries of around $120 USD per month, the national minimum wage. Women are often excluded from the formal labor market entirely, while children are left to beg or sell postcards to earn money to pay their school fees.
As we witnessed the often strained interactions between awkward, camera-ready tourists and shy but amused locals, we saw an opportunity to bring new experiences to the tourism market in Bagan. Immersive activities that allowed locals to share their skills and ways of life with visitors on an eye-to-eye level, preserving their dignity and self-respect by allowing them to earn their own livelihoods in new, positive ways. The villages and local communities directly benefit from our tours through training, fair-paying jobs and contributions to community-priority funds.
We work closely together with Myanmar SEEDS, a Swiss non-profit dedicated to sustainably improving the livelihoods of Myanmar’s most disenfranchised. Together we develop and offer training to local villagers, especially women, in English, photography, guiding skills, crafting, recycling/up-cycling and organic gardening. The goal if this cooperation is to develop a shared training infrastructure that will benefit stakeholders by creating new income opportunities through social enterprise for participants as well as new products and market access for their cultural and environmental assets.