Tourist arrivals in Myanmar are likely to fall by half this year amid the global coronavirus outbreak, according to Deputy Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Tin Latt to the local newspaper The Irrawaddy.
“Chinese tourists account for around 25 per cent of tourists to Myanmar. As Chinese people have stopped travelling, we are likely to lose that 25 per cent. Travellers from Western countries, Japan and Korea have also cancelled their trips, so tourist arrivals will drop by 20 to 50 per cent this year,” the deputy minister told The Irrawaddy.
Before the alarming spread of coronavirus, Myanmar saw over 200,000 tourist arrivals in January—a 25 per cent increase from the same period last year, in which Myanmar saw over 160,000 foreign tourists.
As the coronavirus spreads across the globe in February and March, many travellers have cancelled their trips. Some airlines have also suspended operations and some countries have denied visas to foreign travellers who have visited countries where the virus is present.
While over 4.3 million foreign travellers visited Myanmar last year, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism predicts that only around 2 million will visit the country this year.
Chairman of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association U Naung Naung Han said the association is working together with relevant organizations to survey the impact of coronavirus on Myanmar’s tourism industry and collect data about the decline in tourist arrivals.
“For the time being, we are not able to measure the overall impact on the tourism industry. “But we predict a greater decline in tourist arrivals than the Hotel Ministry has predicted,” U Naung Naung Han told The Irrawaddy.
“Health and safety should take precedence over economic impacts, no matter how large the economic impacts might me. I hope the government will be able to take remedial measures when things return to normal,” he added.
(Source: The Irrawaddy)