Myanmar’s tourism operators expect recovery in two years at best

Western tourists mingle with ordinary folks in downtown Yangon. Ko Ko Htay/The Myanmar Times. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

YANGON, May 11, 2020, Myanmar Times. Myanmar’s tourism industry is expected to remain closed for the rest of the year due to COVID-19 restrictions, operators said, Myanmar Times reported.

The recovery of the sector depends on the country’s ability to control and contain the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, far fewer foreign tourists are expected over the next two years.

“It may be possible for local people to start making trips in October if the pandemic is controlled but rather than in groups, most people will only travel with their families. It would be hard to restart both inbound and outbound tours,” said U Thet Lwin Toe, an industry insider based in Yangon.

Because of COVID-19, tour packages offered in the past will need to change and the industry will have to be more innovative with their services to generate revenue, he said.

Daw Aye Thida Moe, vice chair of the Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, said: “It is impossible for Myanmar tourism to return to normal this year as there will be less foreign clients.

Even if the tourism sector starts operating again after the COVID-10 crisis, only the people from neighbouring countries will come. We expect the situations to return to normal in two years at best and are cooperating with the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism for the recovery plans.”

Daw Hla Darli Khin of Toedi Tourism believes tourists from the region might return by the end of the year, but for operators of outbound tours, recovery can be expected by Thingyan next year.

“As all outbound tours have completely stopped due to travel restrictions around the world, we need to think of another business to offset the losses. We expect to only be able to sell airplane tickets for business purposes during this time,” she said.

The tourism sector experienced a high level of outbound booking cancellations this Thingyan as airlines around the world were grounded and international tour operators called off their plans.

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