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Burma’s Minister of Hotels and Tourism Ohn Maung has announced that €34 million (US$37m) will be spent over the next 10 years on conservation and development efforts at scenic Inle Lake, a popular tourist destination in Shan State.
“I am ethnic Intha, and I addressed the state counsellor [Aung San Suu Kyi] at a senior government meeting. ‘Please save Inle Lake,’ I said. We cannot afford to lose this landmark destination, which is a source of livelihood for the local population,” said Ohn Maung.
“For the benefit of the Intha people and the local residents of Nyaung Shwe Township, as well as all the business investors, we must revive Inle Lake.”
The Intha are an ethnic group, numbering around 70,000, who are indigenous to the Inle area.
Ohn Maung said a Norwegian government delegation recently met with Forest Department officials and pledged to provide assistance for the Inle Lake conservation efforts.
Located just 20 kilometres from state capital Taunggyi, Inle Lake is one of the country’s main tourist attractions, known for its floating gardens and ancient Buddhist temples.
Intha fishermen on the lake are among the most photographed people in Burma, admired for their technique of rowing using one leg wrapped around an oar.
Despite being granted Biosphere Reservation status by UNESCO in 2015, experts and environmentalists have warned that the iconic lake is suffering from degradation, mostly caused by deforestation and the constant daily pounding of thousands of visitors.
Covering 490,000 hectares, the lake is currently home to 267 species of birds and 43 species of freshwater fishes, otters and turtles.
Watch HERE: Short DVB video, The magic of Inle Lake