Home Insider Insider News End of Souvenir Shops?

End of Souvenir Shops?

The double whammy of and change of government has kept foreign tourists away from for nearly three years now. The airports have been opened now, but the arrivals numbers are not even going to be one tenth of expected/targeted number of tourists in the neighbouring Thailand (45 million in 2023) in the next calendar year.

The big hotels have fallen. The small motels followed suit. closed down. Tour operators have gone out of business. The latest victims might be the . The  previous government issued orders for the businesses and everything to remain shut for almost all of 2020. 2021 has been nothing but despair, shops kept close due to fear of attacks and social punishment by NLD supporters and extremists, bent to destroying anyone or anything that did not fall in line with their ideology (akin to communist revolution perhaps).

One souvenir shop owner from Scott Market (Bogyoke Aung San Market), along Bogyoke Aung San Road, exactly echoed the sentiment above. He said he would be closing his souvenir shop soon, as continued operations are no longer viable. He did received notices from YCDC (Yangon City Development Committee) encouraging him to reopen his shop. At the same time, lack of tourist arrivals and domestic demand make the reopening impossible, according to him. “We have closed the shop for nearly three years. There is no one here. No buyers, no transactions at all. Once we open, we would have staff costs, increased rentals and utilities as well as logistics costs. We would overnight increase our losses,” he said.

Even in the ancient city of Bagan, lack of visitors, especially the tourists arrivals have caused most souvenir shops to close down completely. According to one local resident, they have now been doing different businesses. Most of them have ventured into food and beverage industry, that could cater for domestic visitors and at the same time, accommodate future tourist arrivals.

Probably Inlay is the only bright spot, due to its ranking as the top destination for domestic . Most of the souvenir shops are still opening over there. Almost all their sales are to locals, according to one Taung Gyi (Capital of Shan State) based souvenir shop owner.

One official from Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneur Association summed it up, “The government is encouraging the return to normality, after the COVID and the reopening of the country to the outside world. Yet the political and security reasons made it hard even for local visitors to travel as freely. Once the tourism stops, the souvenir shops eventually will as well.” According to government statistics, the tourist arrivals have dropped more than 75% due to COVID.