Citing diminished sales and interest, Avalon Waterways has cancelled its 2019 sailings on Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River, a spokesperson for the river cruise line tells Travel Agent.
“This decision is not based on safety or security issues,” the river cruise line said. “While our operations remain distant from locations of any incidents within Myanmar, interest among U.S. travelers for 2019 has waned.”
Myanmar has been rocked by violence since a military crackdown last year against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, which has forced almost 700,000 people to flee their homes to refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, the New York Post reports. The U.S. State Department is conducting an investigation into alleged atrocities against Rohingya men and women, including murder, rape, beatings and other offenses that could potentially be used to prosecute Myanmar’s military for crimes against humanity.
Since the early 2010s, Myanmar has been gradually opening to tourism following the ascension to power of pro-democracy leadership following a period of rule by the military. Over the course of the decade, tour operators began offering itineraries that visited such sites as the temples at Bagan, Yangon and Mandalay, as well as a number of cruises on the Irrawaddy river.
Avalon Waterways said that it will continue operating its Irrawaddy cruises throughout 2018, and that it remains confident in the safety and security of its operation within the country.