Hotels located along Ngapali Beach.

DMG Newsroom
22 March 2021, Sittwe

Out of 98 hotels, motels and guesthouses in Arakan State that have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 52 have been allowed to resume operations so far, according to the state Directorate of Hotels and Tourism.

The Ministry of Health and Sports gave the nod to reopen 15 hotels in Sittwe, 27 in Thandwe, eight in Kyaukphyu and one each in Gwa and Mrauk-U townships after it scrutinised whether the hoteliers were following virus-related directives issued by the ministry.

U Zaw Lin Tun, manager of the Varanasi Hotel in Kyaukphyu Township, said local hoteliers are facing financial losses due to a sharp decline in tourist arrivals due to political instability.

“Tourism had been good until January this year,” he said. “By the end of the second month, the number of visitors to the hotel dropped dramatically. Today, there is no one there,” he said.

He added that the Varanasi Hotel welcomed about 200 tourists per month amid the coronavirus pandemic, but has received only about 50 visitors a month since the military’s February 1 coup.

Hoteliers are still facing difficulties due to the current political situation and the lack of local and foreign tourists staying at hotels and guesthouses, said U Khin Maung Tun, owner of the Royal Linthar Guest House in Ngapali.

“There are very few tourists for the time being. When it doesn’t work, there are losses. Travel is not normal. At most, I get about 19 rooms a month. People who come to Sittwe and Kyaukphyu by car do not go at night, so they stay overnight at the hotel. There are no visitors,” he said.

Due to regional instability and COVID-19, tourist arrivals in Arakan State last year declined by 25% compared with 2019, according to figures from the state Directorate of Hotels and Tourism.

As tourist arrivals to Arakan State have declined, locals who depend on tourism have reported facing job insecurity and livelihood hardships.

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