Coronavirus causes fall of Chinese tourists visiting Myanmar by 30%

22 February 2020
Coronavirus causes fall of Chinese tourists visiting Myanmar by 30%
A Myanmar woman sells postcards to Chinese tourists at the Maha Bandoola park in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

Yangon Region government ethnic Karen Affairs Minister Naw Pan Thinzar Myo said that entry into Myanmar by Chinese tourists fell by about 30% after some of the Chinese flights were banned at Yangon International Airport after the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

She was speaking at a press conference on Friday held by the Yangon Region Legislative Assembly, Tourism Affairs Committee.

Minister Naw Pan Thinzar Myo said, “Most of the Chinese tourists came to Myanmar in Yangon-Ngwesaung 3-night, 4-day tours. Each of them spent an average of 200,000 kyats. So we lost this income earning from them but this is the global crisis. If we let them enter our country to avoid income loss we will have the risk of being infected with this virus.”

During the five days before the banning of Chinese airlines entering Myanmar, over 6,200 tourists visited Myanmar but this number fell to just over 3,900 during five days after the banning of these airlines, according to the Yangon Region Government.

Before the outbreak of coronavirus in China, two Myanmar airlines and 14 Chinese airlines were regularly operating between the two countries.

Currently only four airlines coming from four cities namely Kunming, Shanghai, Mansi and Guangzhou are permitted to continue their flight operations.

Similarly apart from a fall in Chinese tourists coming to Myanmar, the number of tourists from other countries also fell by about 50%, according to the figures released at the press conference held by Tourism Affairs Committee. 

Minister Naw Pan Thinzar Myo said that though they could not do anything currently for the fall of tourists coming to Myanmar the state would help by all available means to increase the number in the future.

“Because of some policies we have to suspend issuing visas to avoid our people being infected with this virus. So the number of tourists coming to Myanmar fell. And then we can relax our visa policy for extending more visas. And also the tourists can come to our country freely when there are no more confirmed and suspected cases in Myanmar. The state can cooperate with the industry for the promotion of the tourism business,” she added.

Currently Myanmar stopped issuing E-visas to people in China and also there are cancellations of bookings and reservations of tourists coming from European countries.

‘Nature Dream Travel’ Managing Director Sabe Aung said to Mizzima on February 12, 2020 that the hotel and tourism business suffered a drop in income as the number of tourists coming to Myanmar fell because of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

“Hotels suffered a lot with very low occupancy rate during this time. The cancellation of hotel reservations is between 50% and 80%. Visits by Chinese tourists are almost stopped,” she added.