Monthly Archives: October 2014

Mountaineers lost on Myanmar peak

Rescuers have called off an aerial hunt for two missing Myanmar mountaineers and a helicopter relief team on Southeast Asia’s highest peak due to bad weather, officials said over the weekend.

Search efforts for the helicopter — carrying three people including a Thai pilot — will continue on the ground as hopes fade of finding the climbers alive after they lost contact with their team in early September.

“We have stopped our aerial search operation because of very bad weather. Snowfall is very heavy on the mountain,” said an official close to the rescue operation who did not want to be named.

“We will continue searching on the ground as much as we can.”

The Thai helicopter, part of a search team led by a controversial Myanmar tycoon, lost contact with ground control last Saturday shortly after it took off from Putao airport in northern Kachin state to drop supplies to the rescue teams.

The missing climbers, Aung Myint Myat and Wai Yan Min Thu, lost contact with the rest of their team in early September after reaching the summit of Hkaka Borazi in Myanmar’s portion of the Himalayas.

“There is very little chance of finding the two missing mountaineers alive in this weather. It’s possible that they have been covered up in heavy snow,” said another official who wished to remain anonymous.

“At this moment, we are only focusing our search on the missing helicopter from Thailand.”

The search operation is being led by Myanmar’s Htoo Foundation, the charitable arm of the sprawling Htoo Group of Companies, with interests from agriculture to an airline, run by businessman Tay Za.

The tycoon, who has links to the former ruling junta and is blacklisted by US sanctions, launched a rescue mission to the mountain, which is in an area where he narrowly survived a helicopter crash a few years ago.

Tay Za’s empire spans teak logs to an airline — although he has also been accused of arms dealing — and he is an enthusiastic mountaineer.

In a statement on its website the Htoo Foundation said it had called off the aerial search due to poor weather conditions.

Hkaka Borazi, in Kachin state, is 5,881 metres (19,295 feet) high.

Source : TTR Weekly

Myanma Airways considers Mandalay hub

State-owned airline Myanma Airways will establish a small aircraft base at Mandalay’s international airport to expand its domestic commuter flights to secondary destinations.

According to the Eleven Myanmar news report, the Mandalay hub will be a base for airline services to Nyaung Oo, Heho, Banmaw, Myitkyina and Lashio, using Beech Craft and Grand Caravan aircraft.

The airline also intends to fly sightseeing trips from the airport for tourists staying in Mandalay.

The media quoted unnamed official as saying that MA has submitted the proposal to Department of Civil Avaition.

The sightseeing flights will cover upstream and downstream trips along the Ayeyawady River, Began-Nyaung Oo-Poppa-Moneywa, Pyin Oo Lwin-Gote Htake and Pintaya-Inle-Pyadalin cave (Nywa Ngan).

MA bought four Beech Craft and a Cessna Grand Caravan.

Myanma Airways is the sole national flag carrier and state-owned airline of Myanmar, based in Yangon. In the past it prospered mainly on royalties it received from other airlines it partnered with. There was also a rule that ensured the state airline held shares in all other airlines flying in the country.

It operates scheduled services to all major domestic destinations from its main Yangon International Airport base. Most tour operators avoid using the airline due to its poor safety record in the past.

Source : TTR Weekly

Hotel zone in Chin

Ministry of Hotels and Tourism says construction of the Kanpetlet hotel zone project will begin soon to lure tourists to the natural attractions of the Nat Ma Taung National Park.

The national park is the latest attraction in Myanmar’s tourism sector.

Local media reported that the ministry would approve construction of hotels and guesthouses for tourists who want to stay in Kanpetlet town in Chin State.

Chin State Administration needs to identify the hotel zone.

Last year, authorities opened Nat Ma Taung, previously known as Mount Victoria and more than 1,000 travellers have so far visited the 3,000 metre high mountain.

Currently, Nat Ma Taung trips can be arranged from Bagan. Travel agents have asked the authorities repair the road to Nat Ma Taung to make transfers easier for tourists.

Presently, access to destinations like Nat Ma Taung National Park and Intawgyi Lake are hampered by extremely poor transportation systems, but upgrades of roads are expected to start soon.

Mount Victoria National Park or Nat Ma Taung  is located close to the border with India and features Mt. Victoria, which at 3,035 metres above sea level is the highest mountain in Chin State, in the western part of Central Myanmar.

It occupies an area of 279 square miles (720 sqm) and was established in 1994 and was subsequently identified as one of ASEAN’s Heritage Parks.

Source : TTR Weekly

Tourist boom on track for 3 million arrivals this year: Ministry

U-Pain-Bridge-wh

Tourists visiting U Pain bridge in Mandalay’s Amarapura Township.

Almost 2 million tourists have visited Myanmar in the first nine months of this year and the number could surpass 3 million by the end of the year, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
Myo Win Nyunt, a director at the ministry, said the number of tourist arrivals was far higher than during the same period last year, and with high tourist season set to begin next month last year’s record was set to be smashed. More than 2 million tourists visited Myanmar last year, setting a new record.
More than 70 per cent of tourists are from neighbouring China and Thailand, with most entering via border checkpoints. The number of tourists arriving by air is also surging and there is a marked increase in the number arriving by sea routes, officials said.
About 80 per cent of all tourist arrivals are from Asia, but the number of visitors from Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Africa is rising, officials say.
The ministry has forecast that receipts from tourism could top US$1 billion this year.
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism Htay Aung said if the rate of increase in tourist arrivals continues at its current pace more than 3 million foreign tourists will visit the country this year.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

More countries may be added to 43 allowed to get E-visas

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has asked people in the tourism sector to suggest more countries that should be added to the list of 43 states whose citizens are allowed to get E-visas – visas provided via the Internet – to visit Myanmar.

E-visas were launched on September 1 and Americans mostly enter with them. Applications for visas-on-arrival will be allowed only till March 2015, the ministry has said.

A travel executive said: “Though the situation is not good in Ukraine, many people from Ukraine have come. I am talking about countries with no Myanmar Embassy. And Portugal, Mexico, Poland and many others. There are many countries which have good government relations with us, which should be permitted to get E-visas… or visa on arrival should be allowed.”

Another tourism business person said: “When a new system is formed, it has to gell with the old one. All ministries know this. Only when the new system operates well, the old system is made to fade away. Now, as the visa-on-arrival system is cut off before the E-visa system goes well, it becomes inconvenient.”

The problem is some embassies do not know a lot about the E-visa system and they cannot explain the system well. Visitors who want to come to Myanmar are instructed to ask travel agencies, business people said. Therefore, they suggested that information about E-visas be sent to Myanmar embassies and consulates.

Source : Eleven Myanmar