Mandalay’s tourism unaffected by curfew

MANDALAY – Tourist arrivals in Mandalay Region have advanced by 25 per cent on year after the curfew was lifted on August 11.

Data also showed that a recent violence which led to a month-long curfew in the city did not affect the tourism industry of the region as a whole, as visitor arrivals in the first seven months have already exceeded last year’s.

“At first, we thought the curfew imposed last month would harm the tourism industry. But there was nothing like that. Foreigners keep flowing into the Mandalay Region,” said Nyi Nyi Swe, head officer of the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism Department in the region.

The department’s data showed that since the curfew was lifted, tourist arrivals went up by 25 per cent compared to the same period last year.

During January and July, the region welcomed 117,786 visitors, a five per cent increase from 111,938 recorded in the corresponding period last year. Throughout 2013, tourist arrivals were tuned at 219,518, which showed a 36 per cent increase from the previous year. The tourism authorities are upbeat of the prospect.

“Our plan is to host cultural shows to draw more tourists in the high tourism season,” Nyi Nyi Swe said, adding that the authorities are issuing license to tour companies with the main aim to ease shortage on hotel rooms and tour guides.

The curfew was imposed on July 3, following riots which were sparked by a false rumour on the Internet that a Buddhist woman had been raped by two Muslim men. Buddhist mobs subsequently went on the rampage through Muslim quarters of the city. Two people were killed and at least 14 were injured.

The curfew was relaxed twice during the imposition, before it was lifted on August 11 as tour guides and business operators in Mandalay City complained about loss of business.

Mandalay is the second most-visited destination in the country, after Yangon. A resident of Chanayethazan Township, in the city centre, recalled being unable to return home from an emergency trip because he lives in the curfew zone. By the time he got near, it was after 10pm.

The curfew was also a major setback for bus and truck terminals, as well as shops that operate at night.


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