‘Nearly half’ of hotels in Yangon closed as tourism collapses, junta official says

According to data provided by officials from the Ministry of Tourism of the military government, nearly half of the hotels in Yangon have been closed amid the near-total collapse of Myanmar’s tourism industry.

The combined impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the military’s February 1 coup has wreaked havoc on the industry.

Of the 483 hotels registered in the former capital, 225 have now ceased operations, said Nyo Aye, director of the ministry’s Yangon office.

Tourism in many parts of the world is tentatively seeking a recovery as vaccines roll out, while Thailand and Vietnam have announced pilot programs to welcome vaccinated tourists.

But the unrest and nationwide conflict sparked by the coup have dashed hopes that Myanmar could follow in the footsteps of its regional neighbors.

Nyo Aye made no mention of the military seizure in his assessment of the problem, saying the hotel closures were only temporary.

“Almost half of the hotels had to rest due to high operating costs and no guests. They will open again once guests come back,” he told Myanmar Now.

Those hotels that remain open have done so by downsizing and cutting costs, while providing quarantine services for those returning to Myanmar on rescue flights, he said.

All but seven of the roughly 3,000 travel agencies in Yangon have closed their operations, he added.

Sedona hotel remains open to existing guests, but has closed new guests and suspended food and beverage services (Myanmar Today)

The closed hotels include the five-star Sule Shangri-La Hotel, which announced on the eve of the January coup that it would close for nine months.

The Sedona Hotel remains open to existing guests, but has closed new guests and suspended food and beverage services.

May Myat Mon Win, general manager of luxury hotel Chatrium, said her hotel was still receiving some long-stay guests and local guests, as well as those returning from abroad on rescue flights.

“We’ve made little to no money during this time, but we don’t want to give up just yet because we believe hotels can do a lot for the community,” she said. “So we will continue to operate.”

Hotels in Yangon still have some business due to the presence of international companies in the city, she said, noting that hotels in tourist hotspots such as Inle Lake and Bagan have suffered more.

The Lotte Hotel, near Inya Lake in Yangon, also remains open to serve corporate employees closely related to its parent company, a staff member said.

Employees of South Korean oil company Posco, which operates the Shwe gas project in Rakhine state, used the hotel to quarantine on their way to Myanmar. Posco also partly owns the hotel.

Myanmar’s annual tourism receipts hit $2.8 billion in 2019 but plummeted 80% the following year after most international flights were banned in March 2020.

The industry had been hoping for a recovery this year, before a coup in February threw the country into chaos.

“This is hopeless for our local business owners,” said an official at the Union of Myanmar Tourism Associations, who also owns a tourism company, and asked not to be named.

“We honestly don’t know when this is going to end.”

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