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Airbnb suspends all bookings in Myanmar

Myanmar: Airbnb has announced that it has suspended hosting at all of its existing listings in Myanmar in response to the implementation of strict new laws in the country prohibiting foreign tourists from staying at unregistered guesthouses or hotels.

The move comes just over two years after the military coup at the start of February 2021, when democratically elected members of the country’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy, were deposed by the Tatmadaw [Myanmar’s military] in a military junta.

Last week, Airbnb sent out email notices to hosts in Myanmar to inform them that their listings and reservations were no longer available and would disappear from the company’s booking platform. Despite this, hosts will still be able to access details regarding their past reservations and payment transaction history.

Although Airbnb’s local business in Myanmar is relatively restricted due to a small number of listings, other online travel agencies [OTAs] including Agoda, Expedia and have continued to list hotels for bookings in the country, as well as making payment options available with international credit cards. In Myanmar, all hotels and guesthouses must be registered under the Myanmar Hotel and Tourism Law and are required to present a list of foreign guests with passport details to the local police or immigration offices every evening.

The country’s 1947 Immigration Act states that foreign visitors on a tourist visa must stay in a hotel or in registered guesthouses.

It is illegal to rent out private homes or offer short-term rentals to tourists in Myanmar – those flouting the laws could face up to three years in prison. Only permanent residents and foreigners holding specific business visas are permitted to rent out apartments or houses on a short-term basis.

An Airbnb statement read: “Airbnb has suspended hosting in Myanmar. Guests will not be able to make any reservations for stays in Myanmar until further notice.

“Airbnb’s local business in Myanmar most recently consisted of a very small number of active listings,” it added.

By-laws written into Myanmar’s 1947 Immigration Act stipulate that foreign visitors on a tourist visa must stay in hotels or registered accommodation.

Owners who rent rooms to foreign guests without a licence can be jailed for three years. Only permanent residents and foreigners holding business visas can rent apartments or houses.

Last July, Airbnb shuttered its domestic tourism business and experience listings in China as a result of the effects of the country’s lockdowns and restrictions, as part of its increasingly stringent zero-Covid strategy on domestic and international tourism.

Isha Borkar

Isha joined IHM in January 2023 as a multimedia reporter. She has a master's in International Journalism from the City, University of London. Isha would like to develop herself as a multimedia reporter in the United States. She enjoys learning new languages, cooking, and reading in her free time. She looks forward to uncovering new stories around the world.