The Myanmar elections are just behind us, the “winter” has arrived in Myanmar (it’s still a comfortable 28 degrees in day time) and the world is optimistic about a possible vaccine. Time for a new personal update from Myanmar.
While the world was eagerly watching the US elections we had our own elections in Myanmar. In brief; a huge turnout (over 70%), a big win for the NLD (an easy majority in parliament) and a clear mandate for Aung San Suu Kyi to continue for another 5 years. Very orderly organized elections all over the country with social distancing in place. A big loss for the former military political party USDP and some gains and some losses for the ethnic parties. The Myanmar people showed patience yet also dedication to use their right to vote in a democracy and everybody is eager to move forward. If you are interested in politics read this article by the former Australian ambassador to Myanmar Mr. Nicholas Coppel,who in my humble opinion, gets it.
The “second wave” is hitting Myanmar as well and there are about 1000 new Covid-19 cases discovered daily for the last 4 weeks and continuously about 20.000 active Covid-19 cases for the last weeks. The number of deaths continues to be relatively low (around 1600 deaths in total) since April – the vast majority people with pre-existing conditions. Some areas (for example Yangon) officially have a “stay at home” order and restaurants are closed. Other areas are relaxing a bit more and in Shan state the government re-opened restaurants since 16 November.
The good news is that the numbers don’t seem to increase very rapidly and are pretty much stable, good news as well is that people seem to recover quickly, death rates are low and the systems set up by the government (including quarantine centres etc. seems to work). Safety guidelines have been issued for hotels, transport, restaurants etc. in order to prepare for the time that we can re-open.
The million dollar question is when and how the government will slowly re-open and they are currently discussing the different scenarios. I personally expect the government is most likely to follow a scenario like Singapore with an slow opening of international travel firstly with test and quarantine on arrival, then without quarantine for people from certain Covid free destinations and eventually for everybody (possibly with a test on arrival or certificate of being Covid-free or being vaccinated).
We do get new enquiries for 2021 and we’re happy to send a proposal but won’t ask any deposits etc. till there is more clarity.
The timing couldn’t have been better; our sister company Grasshopper Adventures just developed a new hiking and biking tour through Popa National park a few weeks back and last week this park made worldwide headlines with the discovery of a new species of monkey; the Popa langur (see BBC article here)
The new tour “Mount Popa volcano climb & biking the rural villages” is a perfect day trip adventure outside Bagan, avoiding the usual tourist’s area and climbing the actual volcano. An adventure with 4 hours hiking to the top of the extinct volcano, a fantastic home cooked lunch in a local village and about 2 hours biking through rural countryside. And we even might see this spectacular new monkey species.
Have a look at our website to learn more on what to do in and around Bagan; we can easily keep your clients busy for a week!
I have joined the Executive Committee of Myanmar Tourism Marketing (in short MTM and very similar to what a Tourism Board does) and therefore will be a bit closer to the fire of what’s happening in tourism Myanmar, advising to the ministry of hotel & tourism and working on Public Relations & digital marketing to promote Myanmar as a sustainable tourism destination. As such, we are working on pitching stories and sending press releases to worldwide media with soft stories on Myanmar. The most recent ones were about interesting books written by Myanmar women. Let me know if you have media contacts in your region that could be interested to receive press releases and story pitches. Please send me their website address so we can contact them.
I am pretty sure you can all relate to this Myanmar Times article I wrote recently. Feel free to share with clients or look back in the archivesfor other Top 10’s of things to do in Myanmar that are published in the newspaper. And in case you need any blogs or other articles for newsletters to your clients please do let me know.
Especially in this difficult period we have to take care of People & Planet and I am happy that Exploration Travel is financially supporting the new local NGO called “Clean Bagan” - a community group that comes together weekly to clean the area in around the ancient Bagan temple ruins and reports if there is any damage to the structures. One of the founders is our very own Min Min (some of you might have met him in Bagan). People in Bagan depend on tourism and it’s a very difficult time but also so encouraging to see people coming together, clean together and sharing a lunch together. All bits help so do let me know if you want to support with a healthy lunch for the volunteers for one day (costs is about 50 Usd)
This month a very short film called Bagan Birdwatcher (less than 4 minutes), made by a local production company. Beautiful scenery around the Bagan temples showing some of the special birds that are endemic to Bagan area. If you have clients interested in bird watching (or walking through a beautiful a setting) please do let us know to organise a bird watching tour.
I hope my email gives you inspiration for Myanmar articles or updates to share with your clients. As always; do let us know if you need updated programs, pictures, videos etc. so you can continue to communicate about Myanmar with your clients.
In case you missed the previous newsletters or simply want to have more graphics have a look at our website: https://exploration.travel/newsletters.
Managing Director Exploration Travel
Edwin Briels and his team have been creating experiences for travellers to Myanmar for over 20 years. After working for companies as Balloons over Bagan and most recently Khiri Travel, Edwin Briels continuously finds new paths to travel and experiences to show clients the story of Myanmar and engages you in a fascinating journey through this country with the most welcoming people you will ever meet.