Monthly Archives: May 2014

Yangon and Fukuokar in Japan sign MOU

The mayor of Yangon City, Hla Myint has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in development with  Fukuoka in Japan.

The mayor of Fukuoka, Raka Shima Soichiro, also signed the agreement which aims to forge cooperation between the two cities on issues such as water distribution, sewage disposal and environmental cleanliness.

Mayor of Yangon Hla Myint said that Yangon urgently needed sufficient drinking water and to improve sewage systems and hygiene. Currently, only six townships in Yangon use proper sewage disposal though plans are underway to extend the system.

An urban master plan is being drawn up by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), to help upgrade Yangon’s urban infrastructure and transport through a number of development loans.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Myanmar Railways to run special charter train

YANGON – Myanmar Railways under the Ministry of Rail Transportation is going to run special charter train to cater for increasing numbers of tourists.

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism announced in a statement that more than one million tourists visited Myanmar as of May 6 this year. It expects about three million tourists to visit by the end of this year.

“The tourists want to visit the entire nation. For example, they will go to Bagan via Kyaukpadaung. They will enjoy sights and take photos along the road. If they have a desire to go one day trip, we are going to allow the permission of charted express train services for their convenience. That’s why we have already offered local companies who want to operate express train services as competitive tender system,” said an official from the rail ministry.

The express train will travel between Bagan and Kyaukpadaung. Myanmar Railways will grant a three-year work permit for train services along the route, according to the rail ministry.

Most of the travellers are from Thailand, Japan, China, French as well as Germany and the United States. More than two million tourists visited Myanmar last year by air, water routes and border gates.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Thai political upheaval unlikely to hurt tourism in Myanmar

The Myanmar tourism industry remains positive that the recent imposition of martial law in Thailand will not affect Thai tourist arrivals to the country, according to sources from the tourism industry.

“Although there has been a slight drop in Thai tourist arrivals recently, this is normal. The tourist arrivals will not fall down due to these situations. When I asked the Thai people, they said they are used to it,” said Sai Saing Hloe, a Thai tour guide.

Most of the Thai tourists come to Myanmar through the Yangon Airport, but there has been an increase in Thai tourist arrivals through the Mandalay and border gateways. Tourist arrivals are expected to rise after the completion of the road connecting Kayah State with Thailand.

“As it is a new road, the tourist arrivals will surely increase. Also, it is unlikely that their arrival will drop down due to the situations in their country. Myanmar will only be affected a little when there is a decrease in tourist arrivals to Thailand. We won’t be affected much,” said Dr Kyi Lin, chairman of Taunggyi Hotel Zone.

As it is a low season in Myanmar now, Thai tourism arrivals to the country remain normal.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Bagan tourism strategy draws on Japanese report

The government has drawn up a strategy on strengthening tourism in Bagan based on a Japanese report keying on boosting development in the region, according to the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism (MHT).

On the heels of the joint contract between Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Myanmar government – an agreement aimed at enhancing development in the  Bagan region — organisations from Japan began studying the area’s tourism potential in April, 2014.

The Japan government compiled a report that was meant to supply the road map that would allow the MHT to strengthen the Bagan tourism sector.

Japan has also promised technical assistance, though the financial aid is unspecified, according to Aung Zaw, director general of the MHT.

The Bagan region has garnered much interest worldwide and more than 200,000 tourists have visited in 2013.

Among the million tourists that have come to Myanmar in the first four months of 2014, over 100,000 of them have been to Bagan.

Currently, there is an ongoing hotel expansion and altogether 77 hotels, motels and guest houses are in operation in Bagan, according to MHT.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Yangon airport’s upgrade approved

The government has given the greenlight to upgrade Yangon International Airport, to boost its annual capacity from 2.7 million passengers to 6 million.

According to the Department for Civil Aviation, the government’s economic committee chaired by President Thein Sein recently approved the upgrade of Yangon International Airport. The economic committee is chaired by President Thein Sein and comprises ministers of 15 ministries.

“We have received the economic committee’s approval for the upgrade. As we have finalised details of the upgrade with a pre-selected contractor, the upgrade will soon begin,” said Tin Naing Tun, Director General of the Department for Civil Aviation.

According to the upgrade plan, the local arrival/departure building of the airport will be demolished and a new building will be erected for completion in the next 18 months. Meanwhile, the airport’s honourary hall will be used for the domestic terminal during the construction period.

The international arrival/departure building of the airport will remain unchanged.

The Pioneer Aerodrome Services, a subsidiary of Myanmar’s conglomerate Asia World, was selected for the upgrade of the airport.

Yangon International Airport is one of the three international airports in Myanmar and is regarded as the major gateway to the country. As the country opens its door to the world, the airport has seen a dramatic increase in international arrivals.

International arrivals rose from 1.6 million tourists in 2009 to 3.08 million tourists in 2012, according to statistics from the aviation department.

The old terminal was used exclusively for domestic flights in 2011 while the new terminal – in operation since May 2007 – handles international flights. In the year, the international terminal handled 1.4 million passengers, while the domestic terminal handled nearly one million passengers.

To help ease the congestion at this airport, Myanmar is also planning to build a new international airport in Hantharwady which is expected to start operations in 2017. The Hantharwady International Airport in Bago is 80km from Yangon.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Daewoo Amara Lotte hotel to open 2016

A joint venture by South Korean based Daewoo International and Myanmar IGE Company has won the bid for the construction of a new hotel under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) system in Yangon.

The joint venture has hired POSCO, a South Korean multinational steel-making company, to do construction for Daewoo Amara Lotte. That project is ambitious, and will include two twenty nine-storey buildings and one fifteen-storey building.

The estimated construction cost for the modern high rise hotel is US$ 220 million and a total of 667 rooms will be available as it is planned according to POSCO.

The Myanmar Investment Commission gave the go-ahead to the joint venture to build the hotel under the BOT system last August. The construction has begun this week and it is expected to open in late 2016.

It will be located in the Hlaing Township of Yangon. The construction site was originally called Sin Phyu Shin Estate and was managed by the military.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Myanmar welcomes 600,000 Thais among one million foreign arrivals in four months

This year’s first four months saw over one million foreign tourists, including a highest number of 600,000 from Thailand, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Based on the surge of foreign tourists, it has been projected that Myanmar will likely welcome more than three million foreign visitors this year. As of May 6, the arrivals have already increased to 1.04 million.

The ministry said significant numbers of foreign visitors were from Japan, China, France, Germany and the United States.

“A lot of Americans are visiting Myanmar. From Thai side, the tourists are increasing every year,” said an official from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Although most foreign visitors spent their holiday in Myanmar, an increasing number of foreigners came to look for business and investment in comparison to last year’s arrivals.

Some 2 million foreign visitors spent over US$900 million last year, a record high for the tourism industry. According to the ministry’s press release, the tourism-generated earnings will soar even higher.

The ministry estimates that a larger number of foreign tourists will arrive because of improved tourism infrastructure such as hotel, tour itinerary, tourist destination and the implementation of Myanmar’s tourism projects.

The number of foreign arrivals stood at more than two million last year, comprising 885,476 by air, 6,086 by ship and 1.1 million through land borders.

The booming tourism industry has spawned the increase of foreign and local investment in hotel construction.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Lack of ecotourism infrastructure hinders local tourists

May14_zyh_ecotourism

Guesthouses at the Phoe Kyar Elephant Camp. (Photo – Nwet Yin Aye/EMG)

Ecotourism tours in Myanmar are more expensive than normal tours due to lack of infrastructure, according to sources in the tourism industry.

“Trips to Phoe Kyar Elephant Camp, Natmataung, and the Myeik Archipelago are more expensive than normal tours such as Ngwe Saung Beach and Chaungtha Beach,” said a local ecotourism operator.

“It’s because there’s no bus line, so cars must be rented and the food must be prepared separately so it is more expensive. Especially, the tour operators have to make special arrangements due to lack of infrastructure.”

Normal tours for local tourists offer many restaurants and hotels to choose from and bus lines run regularly, so they are less expensive than ecotourism tours.

“It only cost between Ks 3,500 to Ks 4,000 per person for a good Myanmar-style meal in places like Bagan. But, it cost Ks 8,000 per person in places like Phoe Kyar Elephant Camp. The expense for meals already costs a lot [so] we have no other choice,” said a local tourist.

According to sources in the tourism industry, there has been a rise in local tourists as well as foreign tourists in Myanmar.

“Myanmar tourists are now travelling more than before. They go on both ecotourism and normal tours. But, most of the local tourists cannot afford to go to places like Natmataung, even though they are interested, because it costs a lot,” said Ma Nwe, a local ecotourism operator.

According to her, local tourists have to rent small vehicles such as Pajeros or Jeeps, which can only seat three or four person, in order to travel the rough roads from Bagan to Natmataung, so the personal expenses continue to rise.

“A trip to Myeik Archipelago with rental for foreigners cost US$800 each, so only a few local tourists can afford this,” said Ma Nwe.

Elephant camps in Myeik Archipelago, Natmataung, Indawgyi Lake, and Kayin State are included among the list of popular ecotourism sites local tourists want to visit. But due to the current costs, these sites receive many more foreign visitors than those from within Myanmar, according to tour operators.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Myanmar and Indonesia sign mutual visa exemption

Myanmar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wanna Maung Lwin and Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natelegawa signed a mutual visa exemption agreement on May 10.
The agreement is a step towards the Asean regional common visa which Myanmar hopes to implement by 2015 as stipulated by the Asean Framework Meeting in Malaysia in 2006.
The agreement was signed at a meeting of foreign affairs ministers during the 24th Asean Summit held in Nay Pyi Taw  from May 10 to May 11.
Thailand’s deputy prime minister said that Thailand also planned to institute a visa exemption agreement with Myanmar but there were some differences of opinion.
“Our side has planned to give visa exemption to those who enter through 20 airports, by air first. But the Myanmar government wants all people that come to Thailand to be given. In that point, opinions are different. However, visa exemption would come sooner or later,” he said.
The Myanmar government sees such agreements as not only beneficial to the tourism sector, but also able to enhance of trade between countries. Trade between Myanmar and Indonesia is expected to reach US$1 billion by 2016.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

UOB oversees Asian business expansion in Myanmar

The Singapore-based United Overseas Bank (UOB) has served as a business consultant to more than 50 clients since its establishment in Myanmar last year, according to the bank.
Seven out of ten business groups in Asia are planning to expand their business into Myanmar in the coming year, according to a survey of the UOB.
The two key factors behind Asian businesses’ keen interest in Myanmar are the country’s expanding middle class and the swift economic reforms taking place, according to the UOB.
“Myanmar’s economy is quickly growing. Due to the need for basic infrastructure, there is a market ready for our hardware products and security equipment,” said the business manager of Soon Hong Seng Pte Ltd.
The UOB opened a consultancy office in Myanmar in 2013 to advise existing and potential clients on investing in Myanmar.
It is one of the leading banks in Asia and has more than 500 offices in 19 countries around the world.

Source : Eleven Myanmar