Monthly Archives: October 2013

Singapore and Malaysia to propose direct flights to NPT in December

Singapore and Malaysia airlines have proposed to run direct flights to Nay Pyi Taw in December for the upcoming SEA Games, Ministry of Transport sources say.

“We have received proposals from Singapore and Malaysia airlines,” Deputy Minister for Transport Zin Yaw told the Union Assembly yesterday.

Yesterday, Thai Air Asia began its seven times-weekly Nay Pyi Taw-Bangkok-Nay Pyi Taw flights. Bangkok Airways yesterday also increased its flight schedule to seven times a week for the same route. The ministry says it will invite more airlines to land at Nay Pyi Taw International Airport. It will also allow FMI and APEX airlines, which propose to base at Nay Pyi Taw, to fly local flights, the deputy minister said.

Nay Pyi Taw International Airport began construction on April 7, 2009 and opened on December 19, 2011.

The government has allowed international flights at the airport since April 1 this year. During the six-month promotional period, airport authorities reduced the landing tax to 50 percent and provided tax-free passenger services. Both international and local airlines have been in negotiations to fly direct flights to Nay Pyi Taw.

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Ngwe Saung Yacht Club to be opened as hotel

Ngwe Saung Yacht Club will be turned into a hotel to accommodate the upcoming Southeast Asian Games.

“The yacht club in Ngwe Saung Beach is not only very suitable for holding high standard sailing competitions but is also intended to accommodate international athletes who will be competing in the SEA Games,” said Moe Myint, chairman of Myanmar Yachting Federation.

The construction of the yacht club has been undertaken by Ngwe Saung Yacht Club and Marina Development Limited at a cost of nearly US$16.7 million.

The yacht club is built on 9.64 acres of land and offers 19 buildings with 134 rooms, including a main building, 4 two-storey buildings, 6 three-room buildings, and 8 double-room buildings.

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Amending in aviation contracts make more flight in future

The respective civil aviation departments of Myanmar, South Korea and Bangladesh have amended the aviation contracts of 2013, thus, paving the way for more than one direct flight from these two countries to Myanmar.

“We have amended the aviation law with Korea and Bangladesh because we have to cancel the things that are not suitable with present situation,” said Tin Naing Tun, director- general of Civil Aviation Department.

According to the changes, single destination system has been cancelled and multiple destination system has been made.

Myanmar International Airway and Air Bagan have gained permission to fly directly to Bangladesh, according to the Myanmar- Bangladesh Aviation discussion held in 2012.

Due to the changes in the aviation contract with Korea, ANA (All Nippon Airways) from Korea and Asiana Airlines can make direct flight to Myanmar.

Myanmar has signed aviation contracts with not only neighboring countries but also 46 countries including Europe, United States, Israel, and U.A.E.

Myanmar has signed with United States on air transport agreement as the earliest agreement in 1949.

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Pilgrims flock to “Golden Rock” Pagoda for full moon festival


Kyeikhtiyo Pagoda crowded with local pilgrims seen in October 19 (Photo-Nyan Win Shein)

Record numbers of pilgrims flocked to the famous Kyeikhtiyo Pagoda, also known as the Golden Rock, to celebrate the full moon of Thadingyut on Saturday.

Rooms and accommodation were increasingly hard to come by as prices have increased up to three fold this year and some pilgrims struggled to find place to stay to be near one of Myanmar’s most important pilgrimage sites.

“I have been here before with my family. When we arrived, we found no room to stay. Finally we found a place at a shop which sells rice and curries to stay for Ks 30,000 (US$ 30) per day. We have to buy water to bath and use with Ks 300 per bucket,” said Thae Su, from Mandalay.

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, in eastern Mon State, is one of Myanmar’s most revered Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Perched on top of a granite boulder covered with gold leaves, legend has it that the rock itself — which hangs precariously over a cliff edge — is held by a strand of the Buddha’s hair.

Guesthouses and restaurants were full with pilgrims and many monasteries and religious halls around the pagoda were also fully booked.

A pilgrim who stayed at a guesthouse around Kyeikhtiyo Pagoda said: “I only have this room because I booked it yesterday. The charges have increased today (full moon day of Thadinkyut). Some guesthouses increased the charges about two times than normal prices. On October 18, an acquaintance had to pay Ks 90,000 (US$ 90) for a room which is normally costs Ks 18,000 (US$ 18).”

Although in general pilgrims can stay in religious halls free of charge, this year the religious trustees in charge of the site appeared to be overwhelmed by the numbers of arrivals.

“This year we have more pilgrims than recent years. We have some difficulties. The pilgrims can stay free at religious halls owned by the Board of Trustees. They don’t have to pay any charges,” insisted Htay Win, president of the Board of Trustees.

The Thadingyut Festival, also know as the Lighting Festival, is held on the full moon day of the Lunar month of Thadingyut to celebrate the Buddha’s descent from the heaven. It is the second most popular festival in Myanmar after Thingyan Festival (New Year Water Festival).

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Myanmar’s new int’l airport to begin construction in 2014


A model of Hantharwady International Airport (Photo-EMG)

Construction work for a new Hantharwady International Airport will be start in early 2014, as Myanmar gears up to receive growing numbers of visitors.

Yangon International Airport, currently the country’s main entry point, handles 20 million passengers a year and will be upgraded to receive another 6 million. Major extensions, however, are restricted due to a surrounding military airbase and residential areas.

“The Yangon Airport is located too close to residential wards. Also the designated area of the airport is 1,000 acres but there are restricted lands like the military airbase so we estimate that the airport can only be expanded to handle 6 million passengers. We have hired Japanese experts to do the estimation,” said Tin Naing Tun, director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).

Yangon Airport currently relies on one runway which it shares with the Mingaladon Air Force base. The airport was temporarily closed on September 30 this year after the parachute of a military fighter jet failed to open on the runway.

International investors are vying for construction contracts on major infrastructure projects as Myanmar races to upgrade the country’s hotels and tourist sites to accommodate growing numbers of visitors.

Korean’s Incheon Airport Consortium has been awarded the tender to build the Hantharwady International Airport and are currently discussing the details of the contract with the DCA.

“We have discussed the contract for the second time. The meeting will be held for three times and in early November, the contract will be signed by that time. The construction work will be start in early 2014,” said Tin Naing Tun.

However, the DCA insists that it will not accept the tender if there are discrepancies with what the company promised during the tender selection process, according to the director general.

As Myanmar braces for record numbers of visitors for the upcoming the Southeast Asian Games in December and the tourist season, Yangon Airport will remain the first port of call.

The airport received over 450,000 visitors between January and September this year.

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Myanmar plans to invite foreign investments in Thandwe Hotel Zone Project


A place on Ngapali Beach in Thandwe Township, Rakhine State (Photo – EMG)

Myanmar government is planning to invite foreign investments to invest in the Thandwe Hotel Zone Project in Rakhine State so as to make it a perfect tourism destination in the western part of Myanmar, said Aung Zaw Win, Director General at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

The director general said this is in accordance with President Thein Sein’s guidelines and the government has budgeted a total of Ks5 billion (about US$5.2 million) to spend on the project.

“The President wants the Ngapali Beach in Thandwe to [be modern] like the Bali Beach. Infrastructural buildings are the key to it. Therefore, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is planning to invite foreign investments for it,” said Aung Zaw Win.

He added that there will be two main parts in the project_ one is the constructions and development such as building roads by the regional government, and another is the environmental conservation.

In planning civil and beach projects in Thandwe Hotel Zone, local and foreign experts will cooperate each other, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism said in a press statement.

The project will start in the financial year 2013-14, according to the Rakhine Region’s government. Another similar hotel zone project in Mrauk U will also begin before 2015.

Myanmar is expecting a significant growth in tourism industry. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism estimated that as much as 3 million tourists will visit Myanmar in coming years.

The government is therefore working on expansion of hotel zones in major tourist sites such as in Shan and Kachin State, as well as constructing high-class hotels in Yangon city, the economic hub of Myanmar.

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Microtel Corporation prepares to invest in Myanmar


A prototype Microtel Inns and Suites located in Jacksonville, Florida (Photo-

Philippine-based Microtel Corporation is preparing to invest in hotels, real estate and educational services in Myanmar, according to Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).

Jose Mari del Rosario, Chairman of Microtel Development Corporation, visited the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration (DICA) in Nay Pyi Taw to discuss the rules and regulations regarding their investment.

The Microtel Development Corporation is known for its franchise Microtel Inns & Suites which numbers 300 hotels around the world including the Philippines, the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Over US$ 1,590 million of foreign capital has been invested in Myanmar’s hotels and tourism industry and over US$ 193 million has gone towards real estate developments.

The MIC has granted permissions to Myanmar companies and Singaporean firms to hire buildings and land in Yankin Township, Yangon Region under Build-Operate-Transfer agreements according to the new Foreign Investment Law.

Companies from the United States and other countries are planning to open branch offices in Myanmar to invest in insurance services, foodstuff industry, hotels and toursim, construction, according to DICA.

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Ministry plans hotel zone expansion in Ngapali Beach


A hotel seen at Ngapali Beach (Photo – EMG)

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has allocated four areas for hotel zone expansion at Ngapali Beach in western Myanmar.

“I heard that the Minister of Hotels and Tourism submitted four areas for expansion of the Thandwe (Ngapali Beach) to the president when he visited Thandwe,” said Myat Moe, manager of the Bayview Hotel in Ngapali Beach.

“Those areas are in front of the Thandwe (Ngapali) Golf Resort, and those near Singaung village, Linnthar village, and Mawyone village.”

According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, President Thein Sein gave instructions for the hotel zone expansion and met with hoteliers from Ngapali Beach during his visit to Thandwe. Five billion kyats have also been allocated for the hotel zone expansion.

Located in Rakhine State, Ngapali Beach is part of an unspoiled coastline and is a popular tourist destination. But with only 17 existing hotels, the area could face difficulty meeting room demand during the high season.

“The tourist season runs from October to April here. We receive many tourist arrivals after November. There are only about 750 hotel rooms in Ngapali Beach, and only about 1,500 guests can stay at these hotels,” said another Ngapali Beach hotelier, adding that zone expansion is inevitable given that there will not be enough rooms available if the tourist arrivals increase as expected.

The government has been promoting a number of sites to attract tourists to Rakhine State.  As well as Ngapali Beach, these include Pearl Island, Thandwe, Sittwe, Rakhine Cultural Museum, Buddhist Museum, Shittaung Pagoda, Koethaung Pagoda, Mahamuni Pagoda, and Mrauk-U Museum.

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Lao Airlines postpones Myanmar flights


Business Desk
Vientiane Times/ANN

National carrier Lao Airlines has rescheduled the opening of direct flights between Vientiane and Yangon in Myanmar to late next year after failing to open the route this month as announced earlier.

Deputy Director General of the airline’s Commercial Department, Manivone Lattanavong, told Vientiane Times last week the new sector will now be available in October next year.

The airline needs more time to work out their marketing plan to ensure the route is profitable, Manivone said. “Time is limited this year, and we have yet to work out a proper marketing plan,” she explained.

Manivone said tour operators typically make their travel and booking plans one year ahead, so the airline needs to work out its marketing plan with tour operators before the planned opening next year.

A senior official with the airline told Vientiane Times previously they had a strong interest in the Yangon sector but were not just targeting passengers from Laos and Myanmar.

Rather, the airline is looking at the potential demand from China, the Republic of Korea and Japan, and anticipates higher passenger numbers now that Myanmar has opened up for investment.

The planned opening of direct flights to Myanmar is part of the carrier’s expansion plans to meet the growing need for air transport in the region.

Lao Airlines announced recently it will reopen direct flights from Vientiane to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on November 7 after cancelling services on this sector in 2008.

The flights will be offered three times a week, departing on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

On October 27, the airline plans to start daily flights between Vientiane and Incheon in the Republic of Korea after recently launching regular flights three times a week between the two cities. Previously, only charter flights were offered between the two cities.

Nok Air takes off to Yangon

The Nation

Nok Air yesterday launched its first international flight, to Yangon.

CEO Patee Sarasin said that demand for the Bangkok-Yangon route was high, despite 2,000 seats being available per day on other Thailand-based airlines. Nok Air is confident that the load factor of this route would be at least 80 per cent.

He said the company is looking at the possibility of flying to other destinations in Myanmar, including Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay and Bagan.

Despite the lower purchasing power and floods, he foresees brisk flying demand in the last quarter. This year’s average load factor would be around 87-88 per cent. Nok Air plans to enlarge the fleet with 16 more aircraft, with two Boeing 737-800 to be delivered this month.