Myanmar tourism staff line up for shots
YANGON, August 16, 2021: The Burmese Ministry of Hospitality and Tourism has announced that it will vaccinate all tourism and hospitality staff to allow the reopening of hotels and guesthouses across the country.
In a high-level meeting with heads and representatives of travel associations on Tuesday, August 10, the ministry said reopening hotels and guesthouses should comply with existing Covid-19 regulations established by the NLD government when it was still in power last December.
The ministry asked tourism associations to help it collect lists of eligible people working in the tourism industry. A deadline of August 20 has been set for applicants.
“Different departments in the Nay Pyi Taw region, state and townships of the country will distribute the jabs once staff employed by member companies of the Myanmar Tourism Federation are registered,” the ministry said.
In a letter to 12 travel and hospitality associations, the ministry’s director general’s office said name lists should be emailed to [email protected] and [email protected] (Hotels and tourism department) no later than August 20, 2021.
Tourism workers will likely receive a Chinese vaccine recently purchased by the military junta. Astra Zeneca vaccines purchased in India by the NLD government in January 2021 have already been distributed to adults over 60 and some hotel staff.
Myanmar faces a public health crisis as the rate of Covid-19 is much higher than official statements acknowledge. Last week around 30-35% of people tested positive, but the testing capacity is meager and limited to around 10,000 per day. This limitation means Myanmar remains well at the bottom of the table showing new daily Covid cases (4,443 new cases on August 10 according to the Burmese junta – source Frontier Myanmar).
In fact, the total number of daily news cases could easily be 10 times higher, as Myanmar’s population is around 54 million. Additionally, a lack of confidence in the military means sick people avoid public hospitals, Covid-19 testing centers, or military-run quarantine facilities. Instead, they try to self-treat at home with the help of online consultations and private sector volunteer groups.
In the meantime, the military has embarked on limited vaccination programs. According to a July 29 press release in the junta newspaper New Light of Myanmar, aviation personnel received the first batch of beatings. Despite the focus on airline and aviation sector personnel, the Hospitality and Tourism Ministry failed to mention the reopening of international flights to Myanmar when it announced it would reopen flights. hotels and guest houses.
Yangon International Airport closed to all commercial flights in March 2020 except for a few relief flights. Myanmar residents returning to the country are subject to a 10-day quarantine at a designated hotel.
Relief flights are operated by Myanmar National Airlines, which is wholly government-owned, and Myanmar Airways International (MAI), which is partly government-owned. In addition, one of Myanmar’s tycoopic families owns an ATR fleet operated by the national airline Air KBZ which also works closely with MAI.
The same group, which owns KBZ bank, has come under heavy criticism on social media, causing the bank’s popularity to drop in Android and Apple store rankings. Critics have accused the bank of freezing bank accounts and donations made to groups of volunteers supporting the fight against Covid and the military junta. The bank did not respond to the Coconuts Yangon report allegations earlier this week.
The ministry directive requesting the list of names of tourism personnel eligible for jabs was presented to the presidents of the following trade associations on August 10.
Myanmar Tourism Federation
Myanmar Hotel Association
Myanmar Travel Association Union (UMTA)
Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association
Myanmar Hotel Professionals Association
Burmese Restaurant Association
Myanmar Tourist Transport Association
Myanmar Souvenir Makers and Distributors Association
Association of National Pilgrimage Tour Operators
Myanmar Tourism Health Association
Myanmar Tour Guides Association
Myanmar Tourism Human Resource Development Association