Myanmar opens ‘pearl islands’ to visitors

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Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar. wikimedia/Mozhar

YANGON (Xinhua) – Some 15 islands in Myeik and Kawthoung, Myanmar’s southern coastal Tanintharyi region where pearl farms are located, will be open to visitors in October, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported yesterday.

The 15 islands accommodate a state-owned and 11 private pearl farms.

Tourist vessels are not allowed to enter into the pearl farming area. However, tourist vessels are to anchor outside the restricted area and relevant farms will pick up the tourists using their small fiber boats, an official of the Myanmar Pearl Enterprise was quoted as saying.

U Myo Lwin, the enterprise’s general manager, said if the time of visit coincides with inserting of pearl nucleus into the oyster and extracting of the pearl from the oyster, tourists can observe the operation from a designated area.

“Once the pearl farms are opened for visitors, it will provide additional benefit to the tourism industry,” said Thein Swe Myint, chairman of the Myeik Tourism Entrepreneurs’ Association.

Myanmar pearls, produced from the Myeik region, are penetrating the international market by holding auction annually for thrice, once in local currency and the other in foreign currency at home, while the third was done abroad.

Myanmar sold more than 200,000 pearls annually over the last five years.

Myanmar was renowned for its South Sea pearls in the 1800s when “sea gypsies” dived for natural pearls around 800 islands of the Myeik Archipelago in the far south of the country.

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