The development of the destinations is part of a community-conservation project funded by the UK's Darwin Initiative. It is a partnership between the Myanmar non-profit organisations 'Grow Back for Posterity' and Myanmar Bird and Nature Society and the UK's Harrison Institute. The project has also received valuable support from the University of Mandalay.
The villagers are making a wide range of interesting handicrafts to sell to tourists. Some are traditional, for example the making of cigars, but many are new and include shopping bags and document bags that feature photographic scenes from the village (see above). Others are made from recycled cement bags. The villagers have enthusiastically thrown themselves into this work. Outputs include beautifully handcrafted wooden dolphins, unique (and very cute!) replica casting nets, and wonderfully tasty mango jam (the fruit picked fresh from the numerous mango trees scattered through the villages).
In addition to selling these crafts in the visitor centres, the villagers are now starting to export their handicrafts to other shops in Myanmar, for example the Inle Lake Heritage Souvenir Shop in Shan State. Meanwhile, a number of hotels in Mandalay are interested in serving Hsithe village's delicious mango jam to their guests.
Handicrafts from Hsithe village awaiting shipment to the Inle Lake Heritage Souvenir Shop, Shan State.
Ma Hnin Witt Yee, Project Reservations Manager, Yangon on 09 250 640 728 or email firstname.lastname@example.org