Flights suspended as tourism in Burma falls

Jun 18, 2008 (DVB)-Following last September’s uprising and the destruction of Cyclone Nargis, there has been a significant decline in tourism within Burma and the industry is beginning to suffer.

Workers in Burma’s hotel and travel industry have said that some private airlines have suspended flights to Burma due to the decline in tourism.

Air Bagan have suspended flights between Rangoon and Bangkok from 15 June to 15 September which an airline employee said was due to high fuel prices.

Air Mandalay, which used to have two flights every week between Rangoon and Chiang Mai, on Sundays and Thursday, have also suspended these services from 7 June to 7 August.

Another employee of Air Mandalay blamed the cancellations on the lack of tourists in the area.

"It’s also because it’s low season, and there are not many people travelling around this time," he said.

A hotel employee in Mandalay said that the whole travel industry in the country has almost ground to a halt, and there have been cancellations of flights, hotel bookings and tours until September.

According to the employee it is unclear how long these problems will continue, and it is not just the smaller businesses that are suffering.

"We can’t say anything precisely yet. Even some grand hotels don’t have any gas now. Also, they have started laying off staff due to slow business," he said.

"The hotels and guesthouses are also reducing their rates to draw in more customers and have started serving food. They are now struggling to pay their employees’ salaries".

The employee added that the decline in tourism started in September last year.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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