18 November 2020
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has launched a program titled the COVID-19 Relief Package (1) to help basic workers in tourism and tourism related businesses in Pyin Oo Lwin. The online training course for horse carriages is a part of the package aiming capacity building for tourism related businesses.
Ko Win Zaw Oo is the Chairman of Pyin Oo Lwin Tourist Guide Association which took the coaching for the horse carriages and vendors in the training course. He said, “As the inbound tourism market has stopped completely and there are no visitors in the town, all the tourism related businesses including the horse carriage drivers are also suffering many losses. So, we are conducting a course for capacity building for the horse carriage drivers. The Ministry of Hotel and Tourisms has launched a program named the COVID-19 Relief Package (1) to help the basic workers in tourism and tourism related businesses. Under the relief package, we have trained the horse carriage drivers and also provide the stipend fees for them. Mandalay Tourist Guide Association has taken the responsibility for that online training. The tour guide trainers have also received the training fees. This is one of the programs that the ministry of hotels and tourisms helps for the tourism industry in Pyin Oo Lwin.”
There are only about 20 horse carriages running in the town and Ko Tin Tun Win is one of the horse carriage drivers among them. He shared his experienced as a horse carriage driver amid the pandemic,
“Before that, my regular income was about 15,000 kyats to 20,000 kyats a day. But depending on the coaches, some used to earn over 30,000 kyats per day. From March onwards, the coaches stopped the running for three months. Recently, the situation calmed down and the roads were reopened. At that time, the coaches could drive once or twice a day. Now, we don’t even have one route for the whole day as there are no passengers. I packed the cart at the gate and came back in the evening. This is what we can do and what we are doing at present. We are just waiting for the day that the roads are reopened and the visitors are coming back to here by watching the news.”
Ko Win Zaw Oo, told MI Radio about his suggestions for horse carriage drivers, “The horse carriage drivers are facing the difficulties. But we are trying to plan for the recovery processes instead of complaining about the losses. For the case of horse carriages, we have suggested them to drive short trips rather with reasonable price rather than driving to get around city for 8,000 kyats.”
Ko Tin Tun Win, the horse carriage driver said, “Mostly, the horse carts are used to ride by the visitors to the city. The residents usually ride motorcycles. If you pay 500 kyats or 1,000 kyats, you can get around the town by motorbike. At present, we are not running for novelty fun-rides by the visitors, the remaining coaches are running for passenger transport in the city. We are driving the short trips like this too as we have to pay for feeding the horse. We have received the assistance from the government once. At that time, we have received 40,000 kyats and some basic foodstuffs. I am also attending the training course. We have got the stipend fees 4,800 kyats a day from the course. We attend the course on Saturday and Sunday.”
Currently, the horse carriages are trying to change their reliance on the tourism market and they are hired by residents for occasions like donation ceremonies and wedding.
Phyo Thi and Aung Hmue