Beautiful islands in the Myeik archipelago host pearl fishing, which inhibits the development of tourism.
An unnamed official from Myeik tourism entrepreneurs' association said: “Some islands are gradually becoming more popular among tourists and domestic travellers but the most beautiful islands in the Myeik archipelago have been grabbed by pearl-collecting companies. They erect signs saying the islands belong to them. At some islands, they use buoys to keep tourists away. We face many difficulties as most beautiful islands are occupied by pearl companies. Although the Myeik archipelago is popular among travellers, we travel agents face many obstacles nowadays. We’d like the regional and union governments to settle this problem."
The pearl is a symbol of the archipelago.
An islander said: “Beauty is not important to pearls, but shade is. Tourism needs sandy beaches and clean water. We see that priority has been given to the pearl companies."
Pearl companies in the archipelago have taken thousands of marine acres and there are applications to extend their businesses. Travel agents face limitations. Last year Tanintharyi Region's chief minister Lei Lei Maw of the National League for Democracy pledged that he will handle issues for both pearl and travel companies.