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Myanmar’s tourism sector has boomed since its borders opened for the first time last year, but a series of dangerous incidents this early in its industry’s growth could have a negative impact for years to come.
Due to bomb blasts and the discovery of unexploded bombs in Yangon and Mandalay in recent days, some tourists planning to visit Myanmar have either cancelled or postponed their plans, travel companies said.
However, the exact number for delayed or cancelled trips were not available, but travel agencies said that they included solo travellers, or those with family or in group tours.
“Some travellers who are worried have delayed or cancelled their trips. I heard the news from travel agencies. If the incidents stop, the tourism industry will not be affected seriously,” said Zaw Win Cho, chairperson of the Myanmar Tour Guide Association.
But experts said last week’s bombing incidents could affect tourist arrivals in the coming high season. It is expected that about 2 million tourists will visit Myanmar in peak season.
“It is understandable that tourists would fear for their lives. A bomb exploded even in a bathroom of the luxury Traders Hotel. No one would travel to a place where one’s life could be in danger,” said Aye Kyaw, an executive for the Myanmar Travel Association.
“Just now, I’ve heard that tourists in Mandalay turned around and went home right at Mandalay Airport, after hearing the Yangon bombing news. I think other hotels face the same situation. In my opinion, independent travellers are bound to leave due to bombing or bombs found in few of Myanmar cities. Those who planned to visit Myanmar within one or two days will not come, and those coming in one or two months will also cancel their trips due to the bomb blasts. Even if they are willing to come, their families or relations will stop them.”
Rumours have circulated that tourists staying at prominent Yangon hotels, including Traders, are leaving for safer places or going back home. However, no hotels reached by Eleven Media would confirm those rumours.
“In our hotel, the arrival and departure of visitors is regular. But we have tightened hotel security,” said an official from Sedona Hotel in Yangon.
Likewise, an official at Traders Hotel where the bomb blast occurred said the inflow and outflow of guests has been regular, and Traders is carrying out its security together with government officials.
For the first time in Myanmar, the total for this year’s tourist’s arrivals reached nearly 500,000 by September. About 2,000 travellers arrive at Yangon International Airport every day, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
The ministry estimates that depending on circumstances, nearly 2 million tourists could visit Myanmar this year.
Bomb blast incidents to date, including Yangon and other locations, are as follows: Chan Myae guest house in Taungoo on October 11; Sawbwargyigon high bus terminal in Yangon, and Yamonnar Road between Dawbon and Thatkayta Townships, on October 13; Traders Hotel in Yangon on October 14; the Shwe Pyae Sone hotel in Sagaing and Soon U Ponenyashin Pagoda, in the Sagaing Hills, on October 15.
(c)2013 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by MCT Information Services.