Monthly Archives: January 2014

New domestic airline takes to the sky next month

The brand new Mann Yatanarpon airline will start flying to local destinations across the country in February, according to the company CEO.

Mann Yatanarpon is the eighth domestic airline from Myanmar. It will operate new ATR 72-600 aircrafts based in Mandalay which will fly to domestic destinations such as Yangon, Nyaung Oo, Heho, Techilek, Kengtung and Mytikyina.

“The intention to base in Mandalay is we want to facilitate for passengers who want to fly to Mandalay directly from overseas. Another intention is to provide Mandalay International Airport as an airport logistic hub,” said Kyaw Myo, CEO of Mann Yatanarpon.

The seven other domestic airlines already in service are: Myanma Airways, Air Mandalay, Air KBZ, GMA, Yangon Airways, Air Began and Asian Wings.

The first Mann Yatanarpon flight will land at Yangon International Airport on January 31. The new ART 72-600 aircraft will fly directly from Toulouse, France where the plane is manufactured.

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Old aircraft to be put on public display in Mandalay

MANDALAY—An old grounded aircraft from Myanmar Airways will be put on public display, with a café inside the aircraft, at Chanmyathazi Airport.

The state-owned airline had bought four Fokker aircrafts and used them to offer flight services. Later, because of their old age and the difficulty finding spare parts after the factory that produced them had shut down, the airline grounded the aircrafts and bought new ones.

The old aircraft in Mandalay was previously used as a private plane by an Arab national and by Winnie Mandela, ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela. It arrived in Myanmar in 2009 and was used for local flights.

“Visitors can take photos while wearing the pilot’s uniform. We also plan to relocate two other grounded Fokker aircrafts at Yangon airport to Chanmyathazi Airport and put them on public display,” said Captain Htin Linn, chief pilot for Myanmar Airways.

Last year, Myanmar Airways put an F-27 aircraft on public display at the People’s Square in Yangon.

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Number of hotels on the rise: Tourism ministry


Zwekabin Hotel in Kayin State. (Photo-EMG)

The number of star-rated hotels, motels and guesthouses in Myanmar has reached 923, with more than 300 guesthouses in operation by the end of last year, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

The ministry said there are six five-star hotels, 17 four-star hotels, 83 three-star hotels, 116 two-star hotels and 102 one-star hotels operating in the country. Ministry figures show that, among the 923 hotels, motels and guesthouses operating in 52 townships across the country, the largest number (232) are located in Yangon City.

Most star-rated hotels are owned by foreign business people, while local investors run most of the guesthouses, as well as some hotels and motels, the ministry said.

Investment in hotel sector rose to US$ 2 billion (Ks 1.96 trillion) last year, with a continuous flow of investment from Thailand and Singapore. The United Arab Emirates, which is famous for its tourism development, also made some investments in the country, the ministry said.

According to official data, Singapore’s investment reached US$ 880 million in Myanmar’s tourism sector by the end of last year, while Thailand invested nearly US$ 250 million.

Myanmar made record-breaking earnings from the tourism sector last year, at US$ 926 million, which was a record high since 2010, according to the ministry.

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Local airlines interested in running local airports

Some local airlines have expressed interest in running local airports that have been handed to the private sector by the Department of Civil Aviation, sources from airport communities say.

“Our airline is interested in investing in local airports, and we have asked to see the registry of interest (ROI). We haven’t yet decided on which airport to operate,” said Ma Grace, deputy director of Air Bagan.

Myat Thu, general manager of Air KBZ, said that his airline has submitted a proposal to operate Heho airport, while Lwin Moe, executive director of Asian Wings, said his airline has not yet submitted a proposal to operate local airports.

“We are closely watching the business, to see whether it can bring us benefits in the future,” he said.

The airports allowed to operate under the private sector are Began-Nyaung Oo, Heho, Dawei, Putao, Monghsat, Kawthoung, Myikyina, Pathein, Myeik, Banmaw, Lashio, Bokpyin, Kalay, Magway, Mawlamyaing, Kani, Pakokku, Hpa-an, Homalin, Kyaukhtu, Ahnesakhan, Loikaw, Ann, Co Co Island, Monywa, Sittwe, Thandwe, Tachilek, Kengtung and Kyaukpyu.

The airports will not allow upgrading to international airport standards. Nor will the department allow full foreign investment: the airports in question must follow the foreign investment law, sources from the Department of Civil Aviation say.

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Increased demand sees 146 new hotels opened in 2013


Loikaw Hotel in Loikaw, Kayah State. (Photo – Aung Zaw Tun)

Myanmar finished 2013 with 923 hotels, offering around 35,000 rooms, an increase from 787 hotels in 2012, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Of these hotels, Nay Pyi Taw accounts for 50 (4,020 rooms), Yangon for 232 (10,175), Mandalay for 104 (4,439), Bagan for 77 (2,386), and Taunggyi and Inle Lake for 70 (1,939).

While half of the hotels are located in Myanmar’s commercial centre, tourist arrivals to the city continue to increase while room shortages remain high, according to sources from the tourism industry.

Myanmar received more than 2.4 million visitors last year – more than 885,000 visitors by air, more than 6,000 visitors by sea, and more than 1 million visitors from the border gates, according to ministry figures.

Of the visitors travelling by air, Yangon airport received the majority of arrivals, with more 800,000 visitors. Mandalay airport received 70,000 visitors, Nay Pyi Taw airport more than 10,000 visitors and Mawlamyine airport more than 1,000 visitors.

As tourism arrivals to the country set record highs, foreign hotel chains have begun to invest in Myanmar while local entrepreneurs are opening smaller hotels to meet the market demand.

As the number of foreign investors increases, there is a higher demand for not only hotels but also for tourism-related businesses.

The Myanmar Investment Commission has so far granted permission to nearly US$ 2 billion (Ks 1.97 trillion) worth of investment in hotels and tourism-related businesses.

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Domestic arrivals hit record high in Myanmar

A record 4 million visitors landing in domestic airports across Myanmar last year, according to statistics released by the Civil Aviation Department.

Twenty-seven domestic airports received a total of 3,836,201 visitors last year while there were over 3.5 million visitors in 2012 and just over 3 million visitors in 2011.

“Out of 33 cities that provide domestic air services in Myanmar, local airlines fly to 27 cities. While Yangon Airport received over 2.4 million international visitors in 2013, domestic airports have also received around 4 million visitors,” said Tin Naing Tun, director-general of Civil Aviation Department.

Yangon International Airport received the highest number of visitors, followed by the Mandalay International Airport and Heho Airport. Many local airports began allowing international flights in 2013.

Myanmar Airways, Air Mandalay, Air KBZ, Golden Myanmar Airline, Yangon Airways, Air Bagan and Asia Wings are the seven domestic airlines that fly to 27 destinations across Myanmar.

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Mawlamyaing a growing attraction for Japanese visitors

Increasing numbers of Japanese tourists have visited Mawlamyaing, the capital of Mon State, and its surrounding areas. 

“Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake were the main places to visit before. Now they become interested in old buildings in Mawlamyaing which were built in 1800s,” said tourist guide Tin Nwe Aye.

Nearby areas of Mawlamyaing, like Beluu and Khaungsay islands are also attractive due to their old buildings and pipe smoking traditions.

Likewise, Kayin State with its mountains of limestone and hot springs is also worth a visit considering that roads are better than before, according to Tin Nwe Aye.

Most Japanese visitors tend to be on business trips rather than on holiday.

“Few visitors comes for vacation these days since we have few hotels here and flight delays due to protests in Thailand,” said a tourist guide.

Because of the economic reforms in Myanmar, the country’s tourism sector is growing well and more tourist destinations are attracting more visitors.

Myanmar expects the number of tourists to reach two million by the end of this year as last year brought 1.9 million foreign visitors to the country, according to data from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

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Myanmar to provide official entry at China border

The Muse-Shwe Li border gate will soon be upgraded to provide official entry to the country, allowing visitors to travel around the country aside from restricted areas, according to Myanmar’s immigration minister.

Immigration Minister Khin Yi told parliament on Wednesday that border gates between Myanmar and Thailand – including Tachileik-Mae Sai, Myawady-Mae Sot, Kawthoung-Ranong and Htee Khee-Sunaron – have also been upgraded as official international entry points.

Visitors with valid passports and pre-issued visas from a Myanmar Embassy have been allowed to travel into the country since last August. A total of 5,553 visitors have crossed by land into Myanmar within four months, according to Khin Yi, significantly boosting local tourism.

He also said the ministry will carry out tasks for mutual visa exemptions, upgrade an online visa system and allow permanent residence for foreigners.

“We will cooperate with regional organisations like GMS, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, and ACEMECS for projects related to immigration, install advanced technologies at international airports, border gateways, and government departments in states and regions to establish a real data system and systematic immigration border management system in the next fiscal year,” said Khin Yi.

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Tourism investment on the rise

Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has granted permission to build at least 923 hotels in late 2013 and international community is eyeing to invest in Myanmar tourism industry according to the Ministry.

Among those interested in are majority from Asian countries. Some European countries have also expressed interested in the business. Many are making contact with the Ministry for investment sector.

“Thailand who already invested in Myanmar also tops the list as well as Singapore and Japan,” said Aung Zaw Win, Director General of the Ministry.

Myanmar businessmen also made huge investment in the hotel businesses and about five proposals for hotel construction have been made per week according to the Ministry.

The tourism sector in Myanmar has significantly increased after 2010 and so hotel industry which is related to the tourism is also booming and international societies are looking Myanmar to make investment.

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is expected to reach three million visitors this year and they are implementing to provide enough hotels to the travelers.

At present, in hotel sector, there are 36 hotels invested by 7 countries. Singapore has invested nearly US$ 700 million with 12 hotels, Vietnam with US $ 450 million. Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, and Britain have also invested with a total of US $ 1710.439 million.

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Bangkok protests ‘cannot hurt Myanmar tourism’—Ye Htut

BAGAN—Despite recent concerns about a possible decline in Thai tourist arrivals, anti-government protests taking place in Bangkok cannot hurt Myanmar’s tourism industry, the president’s spokesperson said today.

Ye Htut, who is also the deputy minister for information, told Eleven Media on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that the recent Bangkok shutdown would have minimal impact on the country’s tourism sector.

“As far as I know, since the anti-government protests in Bangkok took place far away from the Suvarnabhumi Airport, I hope that Myanmar’s tourism industry will not suffer much,” he said in response to Eleven Media’s question.

“It is really hard to instantly estimate the effects of the Bangkok shutdown on Myanmar’s tourism industry, because we need to see the upcoming statistics on the industry, which will be published in the coming weeks.”

The president’s aide added that the Myanmar government, through its embassy in Bangkok, has already warned its citizens who are staying in Thailand to be cautious about the political situation in the kingdom.

“We are trying to protect all Myanmar nationals who are staying in different countries for various reasons,” Ye Htut said.

He also emphasized that the government would protect Myanmar migrant workers in other countries who encounter problems—whether or not they have a proper licence to work there.
“We are now drawing up an exact framework for migrant workers across the region. Whether or not such a framework is ready for release, we will make a priority of protecting Myanmar workers in other countries. We will discuss such issues in this meeting or at other ASEAN meetings,” he said.
Concerning the political tensions happening in some ASEAN countries, Ye Htut affirmed that Myanmar as ASEAN chair would not interfere with the internal affairs of other member countries, following the principles of the association.

“We will not try to interfere with the recent events in Cambodia and Thailand. But we wish that these countries can consider all these issues through means of peaceful dialogues among themselves,” he said.

Concerning the China Power Investment Corporation’s attempt to restart the controversial Myitsone dam project, Ye Htut admitted that he does not know how the Union Assembly will respond to MP Khin Maung Yi’s opinion in a recent interview.

“In making a decision, there are two kinds: binding resolution and non-binding resolution. We must take all the facts into serious consideration before making a decision,” he said.

When asked about the preparations for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which will be launched in 2015, he answered, “At the moment, we cannot say that we are 100 percent complete. I can say that not only Myanmar but also other developing countries within the ASEAN region will try their best to get ready for the AEC by the end of this year.”

The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting retreat is being held in Bagan from Wednesday through Saturday. But all meetings and sideline sessions have been scheduled to take place today and tomorrow only.

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