Monthly Archives: March 2014

Rail ministry to start e-tickets on circular train

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Passengers using circular train (Photo – Aung Myo Thant/EMG)

YANGON – The Ministry of Rail Transportation has announced a tender to implement an electronic ticket system aimed to facilitate commuters travelling on Yangon’s circular railway on March 29.

The electronic circular train permit can be used like the i-pay card that was previously used on buses, according to railway officials.

“Why we plan to use e-ticket is that there are an increasing number of circular train passengers. For that it will be more convenient. We are also upgrading our rail systems to reach international standards,” said an official from Yangon Central Railway Station.

The e-ticket system is being planned by mid-year for use on all circular trains in Yangon which connect the downtown commercial hub with outlaying suburbs and townships.

The Ministry of Rail Transportation has notified businesses who want to get the permit have to apply before April 11 at the Yangon Central Railway Station.

Previously, foreigners had to buy tickets using U.S. dollars but as of April 1, the tickets are being sold in Myanmar Kyat.

100,000 people use the circular train every day, including about 200 foreigners, according to Yangon Central Railway Station.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Myanmar expects 5 million tourists in 2015 – President

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Tourists seen at Bogyoke Aung San market (Photo-EMG)

Myanmar is expecting five million tourists in 2015, said President Thein Sein during a parliamentary speech marking three years since his administration took office.

“Tourist arrivals broke the record since 2011 and reached to 2 million in 2013. Our country has topped the list of world top travel destinations awarded by international tourism organisations for three consecutive years,” the president said.

He added that they were expecting more than three million tourists to visit Myanmar by end of 2014 and five million in 2015.

At present, Myanmar has been nominated for the world top travel award by the European Tourism Association and preparations are underway to welcome three million tourists in 2014.

World tourism associations are helping Myanmar to collect accurate data in tourism industry and Myanmar is cooperating with International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Institute for International Development (IID) to develop tourism around Inle Lake and surrounding mountain areas.

Myanmar has started implementing a tourism master plan this year and have chosen Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle, Kyeikhtiyo, Ngapali, Ngwe Saung, Putao, Myeik, Naga, Netmaung Taung and Loikaw as areas of interest, according to the announcement from the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Foreign tourist arrivals steadily increasing in Mandalay archaeological zone

MANDALAY—About 100,000 foreign tourists visited Mandalay’s archaeological zone during the tourist season from last October through February this year, sources say.
“Mostly French nationals and tourists from Asia and other European countries came here. Although tourist arrivals are increasing on average, the cost of travel expenses, hotel charges and transportation has made it difficult for many to come,” said a tour guide from Mandalay.
Tourist arrivals in Mandalay saw a dramatic spike in 2012 followed by a decrease last year. A total of 99,016 tourists visited in 2011 and 160,975 in 2012. Last year, 142,215 tourists came to visit Mandalay.
The Department of Archaeology under the Ministry of Culture has asked local authorities to charge Myanmar kyats for the entrance fee in all archaeological zones except for the Bagan archaeological zone, which began charging U.S. dollars starting from July 15 last year. The Ministry of Culture charges tourists visiting Mandalay-Bago regions Ks 10,000 each, which tourists visiting Shwe Bo-Han Lin, Mrauk-U and Pyay regions pay Ks 5,000 each and those visiting Sagaing-Mingun regions Ks 3,000 each. Those who visit Kyeikhtoyo Pagoda are charged Ks 6,000 each.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Thailand firms discuss investing in Myanmar’s hotel industry

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Tin Shwe, Deputy Minister for Hotels and Tourism, and the Thailand Ambassador to Myanmar seen at the opening ceremony for Yangon’s Horeca Bizmatch Fair (Photo/EMG).

YANGON—More than 20 companies from Thailand have begun discussions regarding possible cooperation in a joint venture with Myanmar’s hotel services.

The discussions occurred during a meeting between the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and Thai business people held at the Park Royal Hotel in Yangon on Saturday (March 22).

During the meeting, about 100 Myanmar hoteliers, as well as departmental heads from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, studied investment data together with more than 600 business people from Thailand.

The Thailand companies are aiming to participate in hotel services together with Myanmar hoteliers as a joint venture.

“The Myanmar hotel and tourism industry is one of this country’s developing businesses, and most international firms are now eyeing to invest in our hotel services. At present, a Vietnamese firm is constructing a hotel worth more than US$ 400 million in Myanmar. So the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has invited Thai entrepreneurs to invest in Myanmar hotel services,” said Deputy Hotels and Tourism Minister Tin Shwe.

In Myanmar’s hotel industry, eight international companies have already invested more than US$ 1.7 billion.

Among foreign investors, Singapore tops the list with more than US$ 800 million, while Thailand sits third with more than US$ 235 million.

As Myanmar’s tourism industry is now booming, the ministry is inviting foreigners to invest in the industry because Myanmar is facing hotel shortages. That is why European countries and the Southeast Asian region are now observing the Myanmar hotel and tourism industry.

Myanmar’s hotel and tourism industry stands in fifth position among sectors with the most foreign investment.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

ITC to help boost tourist appeal of Kayah State

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Scene of Kayah State’s Loikaw City from Taung-kwe Pagoda hill (Photo – Aung Zaw Htun/EMG).

The International Trade Centre (ITC) will provide technical support to Kayah State, which lags behind other parts of the country in developing its travel and tour businesses, to help it become a more attractive tourist destination, according to the Union of Myanmar Travel Association.

Starting from this May, ITC is planning to develop more job opportunities for people living in that region. Kayah State has been chosen by ITC because its travel and tourism sector is the least developed among all of Myanmar’s regions and yet the beauty of its natural landscape has much potential to attract tourists.

“It is not easy to implement development on a country-wide level. So, firstly, Kayah State with its many prospects for travel business is going to be developed with tourist attractions like those in Bagan and Inle Lake. Later, Kayah State will become a model. Other developing regions are in the development plan, as well,” a UMTA statement says.

The ITC will also support tourism-related technologies for hotels, restaurants, servicing and tour-guide services. As such, more job opportunities for regional people are expected.

“Concerning the hotels, it is about how to provide service. For tour guides, it is about where to bring their tourists. This group will share knowledge with the regional people about what kind of products attracts tourists and the way to sell them,” says the UMTA.
At present, tourists are reportedly not allowed to visit Kayah State. While some people do visit there, the state sees very few tourists.

The International Trade Center (ITC), which is technically supporting Kayah State, is one of the organizations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and UNCTAD. The ITC is helping the travel and tour sector because they want to support technology not only in economics but also in the service industry.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

President orders new Bagan hotel zone project to avoid cultural zones

YANGON—President Thein Sein has directed hoteliers in Myanmar’s most popular tourist destination to construct a new hotel zone project in Bagan far from the cultural regions, according to the Ministry of Culture.

“The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism will have to cooperate closely in the extension of hotel zone projects in Bagan,” said Minister of Culture Aye Myint Kyu at a press conference held at the National Museum on Tuesday (March 18).

While visiting Bagan, Thein Sein told the Mandalay Regional Government Committee that extension of hotel facilities in the Bagan archaeological region must remain clear of cultural zones. Three locations in Bagan have already been designated ancient archaeological regions.

The Ministry of Culture will not allow permission for the construction of any buildings in the cultural zones.

One tenth of the more than two million tourists who visited Myanmar last year went to Bagan, making it one of the top tourist places in Myanmar, according to the Ministry of Culture.

The government had already planned to record in the World Heritage Status the four hotel zones which had been implemented in Bagan. Due to the increasing number of tourist arrivals and hotel shortages in Bagan, however, a new hotel zone project is being implemented there.

There are 77 hotels providing 2,386 rooms in Bagan, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Singapore the top investor in Myanmar hotels and tourism sector

Singapore has become the top investor in Myanmar’s hotels and tourism sector, with a total investment of more than US$ 880 million (Ks 847.44 billion), according to the Myanmar Infrastructure Summit held on Tuesday (March 18).

“Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, Bagan and Inlay regions have seen a massive influx of tourists after Yangon,” said Hlaing Oo, Director of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. “Due to the enormous flow of tourists, foreign companies have begun making huge investments in the hotel sector, such as with five- and four-star hotels in Yangon. The top investor in this sector is Singapore.”

Singapore stands first with investment totaling US$ 880.46 million, followed by Vietnam with US$ 440 million, Thailand with US$ 235.75 million and Japan with US$ 183.10 million, Currently, 39 projects—14 from Singapore, 10 from Thailand, six from Japan, four from Hong Kong, two from Malaysia and one each from the UK, Vietnam and UAE are under way, with a total investment of US$ 1.91 billion, according to the source.

To develop Myanmar’s hotels and tourism, the country is in urgent need of more hotel rooms. The energy sector tops the list for Myanmar’s foreign investment, followed by oil and gas, manufacturing, mining, and hotels and tourism. A total of 51 foreign companies have made investments in Myanmar’s hotels and tourism sector, reaching a total investment of US$ 1.79 billion.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

M.V. Crystal Symphonym arrives at Thilawa Port with 600 passengers

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M.V. Crystal Symphonym Cruise reached Thilawa Port at five a.m. on March 18 (Photo – Aung Zaw Htun).

A round-the-world cruiseship carrying 600 passengers, the M.V. Crystal Symphonym, reportedly arrived at Thilawa Port in Yangon at 5 a.m. on Tuesday (March 18).

Thet Lwin Toe, chairperson of Myanmar Voyages Tour Company in charge of the ship’s arrival, said that this year has seen more cruises arriving at Thiawa International Port in the early morning hours and at night.

“Normally, ships were allowed to port only at around three o’clock in the afternoon. In other countries, they usually leave at night and come in to port in the early morning, so that the passengers have more time to visit. Now in Myanmar, ships are being allowed to depart until about ten o’clock at night and come in to the port before dawn.”

Among the reported 634 passengers on the cruise, 313 are from the United States, 66 from Canada, 55 from Australia and 45 from England. The cruise is staying at Thilawa Port for two days and will leave the port at four p.m. on Thursday (March 20).

Some of the passengers on M.V. Crystal Symphonym Cruise are staying in Yangon, while some are visiting Bago and Thanlyin, and others are visiting Bagan Region and elsewhere.

In Yangon, the passengers will visit popular tourist attractions such as Shwedagon Pagoda, Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, Bogyoke Market, the National Museum and City Hall.

The M.V. Crystal Symphonym Cruise came to Myanmar from Phuket, Thailand. The ship will depart for Port Blair, India. It is the fifth cruise ship to visit the country through Myanmar Voyages this season.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Booming tourism in Bagan nets fifth hotel zone

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A foreign tourist draws ancient temples of Bagan.

Thanks to the booming numbers of local and foreign tourists to the ancient city of Bagan, the centre of Myanmar’s culture and heritage, the Ministry of the Hotels and Tourism has decided to add a fifth hotel zone to the area.

With Bagan’s four existing hotel zones reaching full capacity, the fifth zone is being added for the convenience of tourists. However, a city plan is also being undertaken to ensure that the buildings are not located in the vicinity of the city’s ancient temples.

Myanmar’s tourism soared immensely last year, making Bagan and its ancient temples the most popular tourist destination in the country. Up to last February, there were 77 licensed hotels, motels and guesthouses, and 2,386 rooms according to the inventory kept by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

President Thein Sein, meeting with hotel zone entrepreneurs, said that tourists travel to Bagan on account of its heritage, so this heritage must be well preserved.

Although the peak season from October to May is the busiest period of touring activity in Myanmar, Bagan is also popular from June to July depending on the local climate, according to tourism industry sources. Last year, the number of tourists reached more than 2,040,000 and the travel was mostly done by flight or by auto route through Myanmar’s frontiers. Because of booming tourism in Myanmar, new routes are being shaped while existing routes are extended.

As well, new destinations for ecotourism are emerging. Putao, the Myeik Archipelagos, Naga Land, Hakha, Natma Taung and Loikaw city are promising destinations, according to the Myanmar Tourism Master Plan. And the number of foreign tourists is expected to reach as high as three million this year, said Hlaing Oo from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

“In the current period, people are becoming interested in Myanmar. They want to know what Myanmar is. They want to come and learn what business they can run in the country. Consequently, the number of tourists is increasing every year. In spite of being inferior in numbers to some of our regional neighbours, there are a lot of prospects for Myanmar,” said Hlaing Oo.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Yangon Heritage Trust calls for ‘systematic’ preservation of historic buildings

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An ancient building seen on Pansoedan Road in Yangon 

Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT) says that systematic management is necessary to maintain historic buildings with significant architectural design along Pansoedan Road in downtown Yangon.

The group says that Yangon can become one of the world’s top cities if those landmark buildings are systematically conserved. It also blamed the authorities for constructing two new buildings on the road, saying that such construction could harm the value of the existing historic buildings worth millions of dollars.

The historic Government House and Jubilee Hall were demolished and new buildings constructed in place of them.

In the 1970s, the government built a parliament building in place of Government House and a defence services museum in place of Jubilee Hall. Critics say that unsystematic management has led to the disappearance of many of the country’s landmark buildings.

The World Monument Fund last year announced that it had added the city centre of Yangon to its 2014 Watch List.

According to data released by the Yangon City Development Committee, Yangon has 189 ancient government and religious buildings.

YHT is reportedly trying to include private buildings on the list of historic architectural buildings.

Source : Eleven Myanmar