World Focus

Growing perils of Myanmar's tourism industry

Authorities, non-profit groups in race to protect country against environmental damage, child exploitation

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Inle Lake is a wildlife sanctuary that attracts 300,000 visitors a year. It is also home to floating tomato farms. Villagers have been farming there for generations, but the rising use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides is polluting the water.
Hot-air balloons over Buddhist temples in Myanmar's Bagan. Such tours are also offered to tourists at Inle Lake, but wildlife officials prefer to scrap them, as the hot-air balloons affect the migratory birds there. More tourists are flocking to Myan
Hot-air balloons over Buddhist temples in Myanmar’s Bagan. Such tours are also offered to tourists at Inle Lake, but wildlife officials prefer to scrap them, as the hot-air balloons affect the migratory birds there. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO
Hot-air balloons over Buddhist temples in Myanmar's Bagan. Such tours are also offered to tourists at Inle Lake, but wildlife officials prefer to scrap them, as the hot-air balloons affect the migratory birds there. More tourists are flocking to Myan
More tourists are flocking to Myanmar’s attractions, such as the historical gems of Mandalay (above) and the remote southern Myeik Archipelago, which is drawing more cruise ships and speedboats with visitors seeking out quiet waters and empty beaches. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO
Hot-air balloons over Buddhist temples in Myanmar's Bagan. Such tours are also offered to tourists at Inle Lake, but wildlife officials prefer to scrap them, as the hot-air balloons affect the migratory birds there. More tourists are flocking to Myan
More tourists are flocking to Myanmar’s attractions, such as the historical gems of Mandalay and the remote southern Myeik Archipelago (above), which is drawing more cruise ships and speedboats with visitors seeking out quiet waters and empty beaches PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO
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Winter is a busy season at Myanmar's second-largest lake.

Thousands of migratory birds swoop in at Inle Lake just as tourists flock to the wildlife sanctuary for boat and hot-air balloon tours on crisp mornings. But if it were up to wildlife officials, the balloon tours would be scrapped.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2018, with the headline Growing perils of Myanmar's tourism industry. Subscribe