Monthly Archives: May 2013

Myanmar Airways International to Seoul


Thai tourists top the list of Myanmar’s tourist arrivals this

Thai tourists have been in the top list of Asian tourists visiting Myanmar this year, according to official figures from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Over 250,000 foreign tourists visited the country from January to April, 44 per cent up from the previous year, the ministry said.

The Asian tourists took up 60 per cent of all foreign tourists with 37,000 Thai tourists. Japanese tourists took the second place with over 21,000 followed by South Koreans with over 18,000 visitors. The figures showed at least 16,000 Chinese tourists visited the country in the same period.

European tourists followed the Asians with 15,000 French, 13,000 British and 11,000 German during the period.

Visitors to Myanmar during January and February this year was in high number, March and April is a bit lower but still high compare to the same period of last year, said Aung Din, the managing director for Nature Lovers Company.

Myanmar’s annual tourism high season is from the end of September to the end of April and rainy season is regarded as low season.

The number of tourist arrivals has started going down since 2007 and sharply declined after the Cyclone Nargis hit the country in 2008.

Number of visitor was going up since 2010 due to the country’s reforms. The number of tourist arrivals hit one million in 2012, the first ever for the country.

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Myanmar to allow tourists through Myanmar-Thai border at Kayin State

Foreign tourists will soon be permitted to enter Myanmar through border trade centers in Kayin State, bordering Thailand, said Zaw Min, the chief minister for the state at the ASEAN Economic Forum held on May 19 in Hpa-an, its capital city.

“As a preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, the foreign tourists will be allowed to enter the country through the newly opened border trade centers such as Mawtaung, Hteekhee, Myawady and Pharathonesu in the state,” he said.

Currently there are few foreign tourists who entered the country through the centers and only one-day trip is allowed.

“There is a bridge built across Thaung Rin River between Myanmar and Thailand. As much as I know, the number of foreign tourists entering the country through the border is not much now.

But opening like this will likely attract more of them. And Thailand has received a lot of tourists currently. The tourists are also interested in visiting Kayin,” said a Myanmar resident from Maesot, a town in western Thailand.

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Nepalese Airlines to launch nonstop flight service to Yangon

The Nepalese Airlines have been in talks with Myanmar airlines authorities to launch direct flight services from Yangon to Kathmandu, according airlines director Saroj K. Kasaju.

The director said the nonstop service will be operated during this year to promote tourism. There is no direct flight from Myanmar to Nepal and tourists who wish to visit Lumbini [Buddhist pilgrimage site] have to travel via India.

“Yangon-Lumbini nonstop flight schedule will be added after completion of airport construction in Lumbini,” Saroj told the Nepal Travel Forum on May 17.

Nepal has raised its visa fee from $10 to $25 in 2010. The participants had discussed about the reduction in visa fee.

Forum officiating officer Subash Nirola said, he will talk to the authorities of Nepal for reducing visa fee. At least 300,000 Myanmar tourists visit Lumbini every year. The authorities are also planning to make changes in programs that will ensure visitors comfort while visiting Nepal.

“For Bodh Gaya visitors Indian Airlines, Myanmar International Airlines and private chartered service are available. The visitors travel Lumbini through India-Nepal border. A nonstop flight will bring about convenience,”  travel agent Maung Maung Aye from Mahatoe Bodh Gaya Tour Company.

Bodh Gaya is a religious place where the Buddha obtained the enlightenment. It is located northern India close to Nepal. Lumbini is where the Buddha lived until at the age of 29 which is located in Nepal now.

A 15-day trip to Bodh Gaya will cost over $1,000 per person. Indian visa is available online and Nepalese visa can be applied at Nepalese Embassy. Nepalese authorities are issuing border pass at Lumbini for tourists.

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French firm to invest in Myanmar’s tourism industry

French-based Croisi Europe Company will invest in tourism industry in Myanmar, according to Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration-DICA under the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Department.

The company is now operating the tourism industry around the world.

Mr. Patrick Schmitter, the Chairman of Croisi Europe Company, met with the officials from DICA in Nay Pyi Taw last Wednesday and discussed matters on investment opportunities in tourism industry, Myanmar’s Investment law and work procedures.

The international companies have invested over US$ 1,504 million in Myanmar’s Hotels and Tourism industry and 3.56 percent of volume of the foreign investment has been invested in 46 projects.

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Peninsula group to open hotel in Yangon

Hong Kong-based Peninsula Hotels Group is planning to build a hotel at the Railways building in the downtown Yangon, according to Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotel (HSH).

The group will create a new joint venture with Yoma Strategic Holdings Limited.

It is also preparing to build the hotels in Mandalay and Bagan. It has been selling shares to carry out the hotel projects in last month.

Yoma Strategic Holdings is running the construction developments, properties managements, and real estates in Singapore, Myanmar and China. It is also operating business in agricultural sectors, the Bloomberg Business Week reported.

Yoma and First Myanmar Investment are subsidiaries of SPA Groups. The SPA is chaired by tycoon Thein Wai.

The HSH founded the Peninsula Hotels group in 1866. It is a member of Hong Kong stock exchange and operating businesses in Asia, EU and US countries.

Peninsula Hotels Group is running hotel business in Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo, Bangkok, Manila, New York, Chicago and Paris.

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Htee Khee checkpoint opens on Myanmar-Thai border

Htee Khee checkpoint on the Thailand and Myanmar border was inaugurated on Saturday and became the third border checkpoint in Tanintharyi Region.

It is located about 100 miles East of Dawei and lies on the Dawei-Kanchanaburi road which is under construction and will lead to Dawei Special Economic Zone.

Senior officials including Myat Ko, Minister for Tanintharyi Region, Col. Dha Kyaw Lin of KNU Brigade-4, Myanmar Ambassador to Thailand, Governor of Kanchanaburi Province, representatives from Italian- Thai Development (ITD) and Thai businessmen attended the opening ceremony of the checkpoint.

Myat Ko, Minister for Tanintharyi Region said, “Trade will boost in the region due to the Htee Khee checkpoint and upgrading works will be made for Dhawei-Htee Khee road section.” He added that border pass certificates will also issued to travelers and it will lead to free access in the region. He urged the officials to avoid bribery.

The Governor of Kanchaburi Province in his opening address said he and the Thai government are very pleased to witness the opening of Htee Khee border checkpoint. He would like to invite Myanmar officials to pay a visit to Thailand. Moreover, the border checkpoint from Thailand’s side will open on July 1. He added that necessary assistance will be provided in border trade.

Temporary border pass are being issued at one stop service in Htee Khee checkpoint. A copy and an original of national registration card are needed for applying temporary border pass and it will cost K.1000 per person. The temporary border pass allows six nights seven days stay in Thailand. In addition, 2 years valid temporary border pass are to be issued for local migrant workers.

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New hotels to build in famous Ngapali beach

Authorities are planning to expand Ngapali Hotel Zone with new hotels by Max Myanmar, Edin, Minzarni and Fortune companies, in coming October, according to Ngapali Hotel Zone’s development seminar held last week.

Hotels and Tourism Minister Htay Aung met with the hotel operators from Ngapali Hotel Zone at Amazing Ngapali Resort on May 3 and discussed matters on the expansion, beautifying and sanitation works around the beach as well as construction of new roads for easy access.

“The number of tourist arrivals is remarkably increasing. We are planning to expand the hotel zone in three phases. For beautifying of the beach, we are also carrying out the sanitation tasks,” said Kyaw Swa Maung, the Resident Manager from Amazing Ngapali Resort.

Currently, there are 563 rooms in the Ngapali Hotel Zone. If four new hotels open in this year, there will be nearly 700 rooms.

The number of tourists who visited Ngapali had increased since 2011 and nearly 10,000 tourists visited the beach this year.

In the zone, there will be 23 hotels when the new hotels are completed. Moreover, the plans are under ways to extend Ngapali Hotel zone.

The numbers of tourists to Myanmar increased largely and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism expected that 40 percent of tourists would be raised in this year compared to the previous year.

Over one million tourists had visited Myanmar last year through Yangon International Airport and border gates in border areas.

At present, there are nearly 750 hotels with 27,000 rooms operated by local and foreign companies across the country.

Thirty hotels, with a total of 5,207 rooms, invested by foreign companies, are now operating in Myanmar.

Constructions of 8 hotel projects with additional 2,400 rooms by foreign investors are now under way. Upon completion of these projects, there will be 7,850 rooms for visitors.

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Tourists to Inle Lake region (Shan State) surge 50 percent

The number of international tourists visiting Inle region of Myanmar has surged about 50 percent this year, according to an executive of Myanmar Hotelier Association.

Aung Kyaw Moe, General Secretary for Taunggyi Zone, said the fiscal year 2012-2013 has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of tourists to Inle region, compared to 2011-2012.

“Now is the off-peak season of tourism [in Myanmar]. Still, we can see visitors here unlike the past years,” he said.

Inle Lake is located in Nyaungshwe township of Southern Shan State. Next to the ancient Bagan city, which is an archaeological wonder of the world, Inle Lake is the most famous tourist site in Myanmar.

Tourists are usually fascinated with the natural beauty of Inle region and wondrous sight of those indigenous people who row boats with their legs. They enjoy looking around the area for unique handicrafts in each village as well as the intriguing local traditions and culture.

Aung Kyaw Win, a tour guide, said a few tourists used to visit Inle Lake in April and May, but this year he has seen many tourists in the area. Anna, a Chinese tourist in Inle, said, “This is the first time for me. It is a really interesting trip.”

Most of the Western tourists to Inle are the French and most Asian the Korean and Japanese.

“I have chosen the holiday trip here as I am very interested in the fishermen and floating villages in the lake. This is my first trip here. Although the water level dropped this year, I enjoy the place. After this place, I love Bagan,” Bluno Allier Cleire Salvan, a French tourist, said.

“Inle is a very beautiful place. Farming on the floating islands in the lake is really wonderful. It is beautiful and successful. Here the native people are sweet and hospitable towards the tourists. In fact, we have seen such people not only here but also along our trip in this country,” another French tourist Cathy Rondepierre said.

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Japanese business travellers flock to Myanmar

The number of Japanese business travellers to Myanmar has increased over the past eleven months since the government allowed visa on arrival, according to an official from the Immigration Department at the Yangon International Airport.

“Among 26,000 visitors that arrived [in Myanmar] after allowing visa on arrival, the most number of arrivals came from Japan,” said the official.

A total of 3,180 visitors came from Japan with visa on arrival, followed by 3,065 visitors from Singapore, 2,506 visitors from India, 2,169 visitors from Malaysia, 1,998 visitors from US, and 1,997 from South Korea.

Many Japanese firms have flocked to Myanmar after Japan waived off the debts owned by Myanmar earlier this year and offered to resume its Official Development Assistance (ODA).

On June 2012, Myanmar government granted business visa on arrival to travelers from 26 countries, including Asean countries. Twenty-two countries including European countries were added to the visa scheme in February this year.

Visas on arrival are only granted to travelers with the necessary documents, including a letter of invitation from their sponsoring company. A 70-day business via costs US$50, a 28-day entry visa for meetings, workshops or events is $40, and a 24-hour transit visa is $20.

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