Name : Byron Hartzler
Country : From CANADA & the USA
Job : Managing Director & Founder of Myanmar Adventure Outfitters Co.,Ltd. in Lashio.
What are your thoughts on the current state of tourism in Myanmar?
Considering the lack of in-coming tourism to Myanmar for so long, I am impressed at how much innovation is happening in the industry. I've met many who are seeing such potential, and taking the leap (big or small) into a new industry and trying something new.
What is the biggest hindrance to the tourism industry here?
We are seeing it this month with the instability in Rakhine, that travelers are changing travel plans for political reasons.
There is a lot of disunity in Myanmar, and some of the best kept secrets in Myanmar are in regions where simmering tensions occasionally boil over.
What developments would you like to see in the coming years?
Working in adventure tourism, safety and mitigating risk is a big priority for us, so having competent staff who are able to encourage adventure and ensure safety at the same time is important. However, I have been discouraged by the stories I have heard of guides being very cavalier with safety.
We need to correct this!
What do you love about your job?
People. Of course, its connecting with travelers, sharing our passion for people, culture, and issues. Even more, it is the connection with local ethnic minorities in isolated communities; a place where we can realize a shared vision for community progress together, and when it is a win for us and for them, their joy is what I love the most!
What do you dislike about your job?
A few years ago as I considered a career shift and ended up starting Myanmar Adventure Outfitters in Lashio, as it ticked off all of the boxes of who I am and what inspires me. Since I designed my role, there is very little I don't like, but there are the periphery challenges of governmental red tape and corruption that are periodically a hassle for us.
Where is your favourite place in Myanmar?
I love off the beaten path places and experiences, which I get plenty of in the Lashio region. A waterfall, previously undiscovered by tourism, is a place we call Dark Horse Falls, and is playground of many waterfalls that brings both chilled-out and adrenaline-filled experiences, and I love showing all that can be done there to people in the dry season.
Tell us about a magical Myanmar moment you've had.
We have been partnering our company profits with an education project in a small Shan community. Hashing out how it would work, it was magical to see the joy on a mother's face when she discovered their 12 year old daughter could continue education in their village instead of sending her to the China border for work This inspires us to create new opportunities through tourism development!