Rakhine crisis scares away tourists

Despite the arrival of tourism peak season, tour and hotel operators have reported a drop in visitors due to the armed conflict in Rakhine state, according to The Irrawaddy News Online on Tuesday.

Union of Myanmar Travel Association president U Thet Lwin said that some booked trips, particularly to Rakhine’s Ngapali beach, were cancelled in wake of the violence in Rakhine state.

U Tint Lwin, director-general of the hotels and tourism ministry, said news of the unrest has scared away tourists and affected the whole tourism industry.

Rakhine-based tour operators said visitors to the region’s famous sites have dropped significantly.

“The number of tourists have declined by half compared to last year’s,” said Ma Moh, a tour operator based in the ancient Arakanese capital Mrauk-U.

She said that most of the hotels were fully booked during this month last year and bookings for transport were also full “but this year is quite dry.”

Tour operators across the country have reported a slump in business. Package tours to Bagan have also dropped.
Hoteliiers and tour operators are hoping for some kind of stability and peace in Rakhine state and the surrounding regions which they say has not only affected tourism, but also the security of the whole country.

According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, 2.9 million tourists visited Myanmar in 2016. More than 3.5 million tourists were expected this year, with about 2.27 million arrivals from January to August this year.