I hope you’re doing well – wanted to give you my monthly update on Myanmar.
A look into the Exploration Travel office in Yangon
A new lick of paint and new signboards, have a look at pictures here. As we spend a lot of time at an office, we want to make sure it’s a nice environment that also showcases the Yangon heritage buildings. You might recognize it as the old office and see familiar faces. Also throughout the rest of Myanmar we’re ready to take care of your clients with the same offices and guides.
As we had some space left over, we are giving part of the office space to our friends at Counselling Corner Myanmar who is busy in this stressful time and doing a lot of good work to improve the public mental health situation in Myanmar.
It looks like the “second wave” has started in Myanmar. New local cases started to emerge in Northern Rakhine state and spread to other parts of Myanmar. The Myanmar government is taking it very seriously and seems to be quite well in control in tracing and putting people with possible contact with patients in a 2 weeks quarantine. Around the country people are strongly discouraged from travelling between cities or states, restaurants and bars are closed, companies are working from home and in total about 250 people (mostly with previous existing health conditions) have died from Covid-19 since the beginning of the outbreak in April.
For the moment Yangon International airport remains closed till 31 October 2020 and I expect that will be extended, although there are regular relief flights to Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo and Dubai.
When I expect tourists visiting Myanmar again? It’s hard to say, obviously the economy is hurting a lot (not only tourism but also agriculture and all other sectors) and the government realizes this and tries to balance between economy and public health (while probably also watching international hubs like Bangkok and Singapore). I do hope there will be a few tourists by the middle of December and that we can start fully again in 2021.
The Myanmar elections will be held on 8 November and the campaigning has started mostly online and with social distancing in mind. There are over 80 political parties taking part in the elections. The NLD party from Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to be the overall winner again, while some ethnic minority parties might also gain more votes. As during the first elections in 2010 and the second elections in 2015, also the upcoming elections are expected to run peacefully and quiet. Streets and cars in Yangon are decorated with flags of the NLD as the current government continues to be very popular. It was a festive atmosphere in my street in Yangon in 2015 as the local street committee organized free lunch for everybody who voted!
Recent published statistics shows a lot of progress for Myanmar over the last 5 years which probably explains the government popularity:
Turtles & tortoise
The joint-venture with Khiri has been dissolved, yet doing good things for People & Planet in Myanmar continues to be at the core of Exploration Travel. This means choosing carefully all our partners and suppliers and ensure we support people who need it most. At the same time, we want to make sure the future travel experiences for your clients are meaningful. One of the projects that continues to get our support is the Myanmar star tortoise breeding centre in Minzontaung National and we encourage our clients to visit it and walk with the rangers through the park; it’s right in between Mandalay and Bagan. The people behind the success of Minzontaung were recently featured in the NY Times with another positive story; this time of the Burmese roofed turtle; see article here
More background on the country – what to read & watch
For those who want to know more about the country and get a bit more insight, I will give every month a suggestion of what to watch or read to get to understand Myanmar a bit better (as it is a special country!). Episode 4 of the new Netflix series “The business of drugs” is all about the production of amphetamine and the different players involved in it. Very well researched and for the first time a documentary clarifies how much some insurgents are involved in it and also shows the damage it does to ordinary people.
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.
PS – next month update will be in mail chimp format so please do add the email firstname.lastname@example.org in your contact list to avoid going to your spam box and let me know if you want to add other colleagues email address.