Two travellers seen walking hand-in-hand along Chaungtha beach in Ayeyarwady Region. Photo: EPA
Chaung Tha, Ngwe Saung, Gaw Yin Gyi Island, Shwe Thaung Yan and other beaches have been closed off to both local and foreign visitors until the end of next month.
“The regional government just gave the instruction. Starting today until the end of April, the shores will be closed,” an official from the Ngwe Saung branch of the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism told The Myanmar Times.
As of today, shops are still open at Ngapali Beach in Rakhine, Inle area in Shan, and Bagan and no travel restrictions have been imposed.
Hotel and tour operators in Bagan say that the number of tourists to those areas has collapsed nonetheless.
“Since the past months, tourist arrivals have halted and there are no travellers. Currently, there is no closure for tours in Shan State. Yet, there are also no visitors,” said U Nyi Nyi Zaw, chair of Inle Zone, Southern Shan State Tour Guide Association.As a result, upcoming tour programmes are being cancelled starting February and almost all the tours have been scrapped.
Earlier this month, the government announced that it will set aside K100 billion in emergency loans to help the businesses most affected by COVID-19, namely tour operators, garment factories and SMEs. The loans will be disbursed at a rate of just one percent over a year.
The Union Of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) has also submitted a proposal for K50 billion in relief loans for tour companies. "These funds are not for the expansion of one’s business, but to sustain the cash flows for tour businesses,” said U Phyo Zaw Wai, deputy chair of the UMTA.
Under normal circumstance, it takes two-three months for tour operators to receive loans.
Tour companies said that they are currently reducing staff, implementing a remote working system, or decreasing monthly salaries.
Credit: Myanmar Times