Thank political stability in Myanmar two years ago, many industries got a chance to develop and so does Myanmar tourism. However, the development of new hotels has created significant impacts to the environment. The environment issue and environmental conservation are the most concerns when constructing more hotels to meet the tourists’ need and tourism market’s development. Authorities have begun to consider environmental issues as a major concern facing the hotel industry, such as sanitation and wastewater treatment, and environmental experts are asking for the regulation’s enforcement.
They estimated that 1590 hotels and guesthouses with 69,370 rooms running in the country. According to the Hotel and Tourism Ministry, most of hotels and guesthouses are established in common tourist destination, such as Yangon; Mandalay; Bagan-Nyaung; Nay Pyi Daw; and Inle-Nyaung Shwe. More hotels are being constructed in less popular areas for an expectation of upcoming tourists. However, only five out of over 1500 hotels got the prize 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, Nyaung Shwe, Ngwe Saung, and Kawthaung. Comparing to other ASEAN countries, the number is quite low.
The environment-friendliness of the hotels is the key point that the organizers of the award emphasize. The criteria used to evaluate are wastewater management and treatment, environmental policy and actions for the hotel operation, application of green products, connecting 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.
Director of Ministry of Hotel and Tourism – Mr. U Myo Win Nyunt admits that the ministry does not arrange human resources to control waste disposal and wastewater treatment facilities of hotels. However, regional officials have started to outline the plan to make the hotels more environment-friendly. The Department of Hotel and Tourism in Mandalay released a policy in December 2017 for all hotels in the Bagan – Nyaung U region to equip water purification systems and set up wastewater treatment facilities as soon as possible or their licenses will be canceled. Besides the cancellation of their licenses, they will file appropriate charges against violators. The wastewater treatment equipment worth from K5 million to K30 million (US$3761 and $22,569) in the market. The design and the number of rooms and the size of the hotel will decide the price of the water purification system.
The developer has to formulate the first environmental management plan before setting up these systems. After the plan is drawn, the establishment has to submit it to the Environmental Conservation Department (ECD) which is under the control of the ministry of Resource and Environmental Conservation. The outline will be accepted if it finishes the standard and requirements set by the office. The ECD’s approval is necessary to protect hotel construction permit as well as hotel operation license. “The fund comes from Myanmar Investment Commission and the office used to submit to our department. But we don’t know clearly whether other hotels install or not (for EMPs),” he said. U Khin Maung Win, the environmental activist and managing director of Myanmar Water Engineering Products Company request the government that the regulations in hotel operations should be more strictly enforced.