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Internet out hits tourism sector

November 1 - 7, 2010

INTERNET blockages and slowdowns that started in Myanmar on October 25 caused “big problems” for tourism businesses in Yangon last week, with some predicting the outage would hurt the industry’s image.

“I don’t know the reason for the internet blockages but I’m worried about the lack of internet access,” said a spokesperson from a leading tour company in Yangon. “It’s very important for my business to be able to communicate with potential visitors from other countries.”

A spokesperson from an air ticket agency in Yangon said the internet problems had resulted in delays in providing essential services to customers.

“It’s a big problem because we cannot use the online booking system. To book tickets, now we have to communicate by phone with the head offices of each airline,” he said.

“The tourist season has started and of course we all are very busy. [On October 27] we got internet access around 6pm but it only lasted for one hour and we couldn’t do anything. I hope to get a connection very soon because it’s ruining business,” he said.

U Hla Aye, the managing director of Shan Yoma Travel in Yangon, said he was “frustrated” by the internet blockage.

“I can’t reply quickly to my customers in other countries, and I’m worried that this will have a negative impact on my company’s image,” he said.

“Tourism is a service industry. We need to provide prompt service when customers from other countries contact us by email. We rely on internet access to communicate with our overseas customers.”

One tourism industry expert said the internet problems would damage the image of Myanmar’s entire tourism industry.

“The people working in the tourism sector are suffering as a result of the internet blockage. The worst thing is, it’s happening at the start of peak season, which will make Myanmar’s tourism industry look very bad,” the expert said.

An official from Myanmar Post and Telecommunication alleged that internet services had been affected by distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks on local servers, which had overloaded the network and effectively nixed the net.