News / Asia

Thai Political Turmoil Hits Burmese Medical Tourists

Anti-government protesters block a road in central Bangkok, January 13, 2014.
Anti-government protesters block a road in central Bangkok, January 13, 2014.
VOA News
The political turmoil in Thailand is affecting medical tourists in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

Some Burmese who traveled to Bangkok for advanced medical treatment have returned home, while others have canceled planned trips.

Ma Thandar is the daughter of an ailing Burmese citizen who returned home this week. She told VOA's Burmese service that her family decided to leave Bangkok because of the political crisis.

"Bumrungrad Hospital is a downtown hospital that has so many Burmese patients. So many have tried to go back to Burma because there are rumors that power and water may be cut. I am worried about the protests. My father has another medical appointment in two weeks, but we are not sure yet if we will be able to come back then," said Ma Thandar.

Most Burmese medical tourists, who are usually wealthy or middle class, travel to Bangkok via airlines which are seeing a sharp decline in passengers on the route between Rangoon and Bangkok.

The marketing manager of Burma’s major airline, Myanmar Airways International, Aye Maratha, says tickets sales to Bangkok have dropped significantly in recent days.

"The regular route is two times a day, morning and evening. There have been no cancellation of flights, but there are fewer passengers than before.  Before the crisis, there were more than 90 passengers [per flight].  Now it is around 50 per flight," said Aye Maratha.

Anti-government protesters in Bangkok are blocking key intersections to snarl traffic in their latest effort to topple the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.

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