As violent ethnic clashes are multiplying in Myanmar, the government is extending a ban for tourists to more destinations in the country. This includes even some destinations in the Yangon and Mandalay regions, two highly popular states for travellers.
The Myanmar government recently decided to expand the list of tourist sites being banned for travellers. The decision has been taken after a German tourist was killed and his female companion injured by a landmine explosion in Thibaw township in Shan State at the end of November.
In Rakhine, tourists are not allowed to visit Mrauk-U, Ponnagyun and Minbya townships due to sporadic clashes between government troops and Arakan Army fighters. Tourists are also banned from Paletwa township in adjacent Chin State for the same reason.
Tourists are not allowed in Cocokyun township in Yangon Region due to security concerns.
In Kachin’s Puta-o township, tourism restrictions have been placed on the villages of Pamatee, Nal Shel Kaw, Mone Ngu, San Dan, San Gaung, Wa Sam dam, and Ziyardam.
“Some of these areas have been announced before. We release it again to remind people of the places they should avoid,” said U Khin Maung Soe, director of the ministry’s Information Department to the Myanmar Times.
He said all travellers should check the list so that they do not visit these restricted areas.
Tourists in Shan State can visit the downtown areas of Namhsan and Namtu towns, but are prohibited from going outside of downtown. They are also banned from visiting Linkhae, Kyaing Taung, Moe-ne, Kyethi, Mine Shu, Mine Yan townships in the State.
U Aung Tun Lin, chair of the Myanmar Tourist Guides Association, said the restriction on the famous cultural heritage area of Mrauk-U could hurt the country’s tourism industry.
In Mandalay Region, tourists need to have permission from local authorities to visit some areas of Mogok and Thabeikkyin townships. In Pyin Oo Lwin township, visitors need permission to visit the villages of Nyaung Done, Kyun Tine, Moegyoe Pyit, Badee Gone, Naung Paing, and Metaw.
Tourists in Banmauk township in Sagaing Region need permission from the authorities to visit the villages of Inn Pauk, Gone Done, Laythar Gone, Bu Taung, Nant Ar, Nant Khin, Nant Mar, Moe Tay, and Nar Nant Htun.
Tourists in Sagaing’s Nanyun township need permission to visit the villages of Tike Tee, Tagar, Lone Mat, Ke San, Kyann Done, La Chan, Lone Yone, Kan Kaw, and Tha Mann.
Tourists who go through travel agencies are usually told about the restrictions, but tourists who wander off on their own may be unaware of them and get into trouble.
The government said that more than 1.5 million tourists entered the country from January through October this year, a 40 percent increase from the same period last year.