Horse-cart riding businesses face financial hardship in Bagan-NyaungU

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Tourists ride horse-carts in Bagan. Photo: Phay Lein (Bagan), Ko Khant

Those residents engaged in horse-cart riding businesses in Bagan cultural heritage zone are experiencing adversities to keep the businesses afloat in hard times due to the lack of travellers amid the COVID-19 restrictions, Bagan-NyaungU Horse-cart Riders Association stated. The feedstuff for horses is expensive. It costs approximately K3,000 per horse a day and totals about K90,000 a month. They are struggling to keep the business alive owing to the burden of feedstuff cost, said Ko Thaung Lwin, a horse-cart rider from Taungbileyar village of Bagan.
“Earlier, we made feedstuff using corn cobs, stalks, soybean and bran. At present, the owners scaled-down the feedstuff cost of horses using only corn cobs and stalks. It will, however, cause nutritional requirements for the horses. Before the pandemic, there were about 240 carts in the town. Some sold their horse for the livings, and now only 210 are left,” he added.
The local people relying on that business are struggling for livings, said U Myo Han, a horse-cart rider.
We like to call for the government’s contributions and those concerned in the tourism industry to maintain this traditional business model in the cultural region, Chair U Myat Thu of the association stressed.
Bagan cultural heritage zone, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was eerily empty due to the tight restrictions of the COVID-19.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the historical temples in the ancient city were packed with a large number of pilgrims and tourists throughout the year. They used to visit Bagan to observe the temples and stupas and view the sunset. The horse-riding businesses, motorcycle and electric bike rental businesses, hotels, motels, and guesthouses were earning well in the high season, along with souvenir businesses. Those businesses created jobs for residents, allowing the local people making a healthy income.
COVID-19 batters the local tourism industry and those engaged in local transportation rental business (three-wheel, boat, horse-riding, car, e-bike, cycle, motorcycle), hotels and guesthouses, restaurants and souvenir shops are suffering from this. The businesses relying on tourism are nearly closed amid COVID-19 negative impacts.—Phay Lein (Bagan), Ko Khant (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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