Monthly Archives: December 2014

31 foreign hotels get permits


Aureum Palace Hotel and Resort in Bagan. (Photo – Nyan Win Shein)

According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, 31 foreign investment hotels have been permitted to open in six regions, including Bagan and Mandalay.

Twenty hotels with a total of 3,047 rooms are allowed to open in Yangon, four hotels with 660 rooms in Mandalay and one with 127 rooms in Bagan.

Two foreign investment hotels with 252 rooms will open in Kawthaung, three with 291 rooms in Tachileik and one with 41 rooms in Myeik.

There are 279 hotels with licences in the Yangon Region, 329 in Mandalay and 200 in Shan State. And the number of hotels permitted to open in particular regions and states by the end of October 2014 was 1,076.

In 2013, 2 million tourist visits earned US$926 million and the ministry estimates 3 million tourists will arrive this year.

The ministry says its policy is to allow social organisations to participate in the tourism sector and minimise any harm to Myanmar’s population.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Twin Taung Lake applies to join World Heritage List

The Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry will nominate Twin Taung Lake for Unesco’s World Heritage List and Renewable Energy Association Myanmar (REAM) will provide the required technical aid for that, said Aung Myint, general secretary of REAM.

Aung Myint said: “The Ministry of Forestry will lead this project. Our association will provide the technical aid they need. What I want to let people know is that a very rare thing exists in Myanmar. And how do we preserve this? We cannot preserve it without worldwide help. This Twin Taung Lake is a rare and amazing ecosystem. It has an astonishing energy resource. I would like to know if we don’t preserve this kind of precious thing, what would we preserve?”

Spirulina, a blue-green freshwater algae that is rich in protein and can help boost the immune system and regulate cholesterol, is found in the lake without mixing seaweed and other impurities. Blue-green spirulina is only found in Myanmar, Mexico and a few African countries.

The lake is in an extinct volcano and spirulina was found there in 1984. In 1987, provimin supplement was manufactured using spirulina from the lake.

Aung Myint said that expert technical aid was needed to preserve the ecosystem as the birthplace of precious and rare bio-resources.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Ethnic Naga want home-stay law for foreigners


Foreigners at a traditional Naga cultural festival. (Photo-Aung Thu Tun)

Ethnic Naga leaders want a home-stay law to allow foreign travellers to stay in their houses, while also allowing them to travel freely travel in the region.

The Naga national conference was held in Hkamti, Sagaing Region, releasing a 27-point statement.

“We want a home-stay law enacted for foreign missionaries and travellers,” Shu Maung, the conference secretary, said.

Zaung Wint Phyoe, a conference member, said: “Our aim is to prevent businessmen from monopolising ecotourism in our region and to protect our land. Another is to protect our fundamental rights. We want the home-stay law to be enacted in accordance with the policies of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.”

The Naga also want the Union government to recognise them so they can directly deal with international development associations in the region.

They demanded better roads and bridges, improved communications, education and health.

About 4 million ethnic Naga live in Myanmar and India. Layshi, Lahal and Nanywan in the Sagaing Region were designated as a Naga self-administered province under the 2008 Constitution.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Myanmar tourism soars

Myanmar’s tourism officials says it is quite possible that the country could host as many as 20.4 million tourists by 2030, but there are conflicting estimates that suggest 7 million would make a more practical target.

At present, tourists arrivals have reached around 3 million a year and the country is straining to cater to the influx. Officials are desperate to maintain quality and not to fall into the “Thailand-style” trap of mass tourism regardless of the cost to culture and lifestyle.

But the prediction of 30 million within the next 15 years will seriously challenge the resolve to concentrate on sustainable tourism.

The Eleven Myanmar said domestic travel is also expected to grow to 29.3 million  over the next 15 years putting even more pressure on accommodation and transport.

The government bases its estimates on a master plan and many of the policies in the plan are already being implemented to reach the 2030 goals.

However, estimates of Myanmar’s Hotel and Tourism Ministry differ placing the projected number of visitors by 2030 at only 7 million. The master plan was written with the assistance of the Norwegian government and the Asian Development Bank.

Myanmar’s hotel and tourism sector has growth steadily since the country opened its doors to foreign investment in 2011. The hotel and tourism sector has generated USD940 million with 85% of that revenue earned by private firms that control most of the activities in tourism including aviation.

Hotel and Tourism Minister Htay Aung said the ministry expects the country will earn more than USD1 billion from tourism and reach 3 million visits this year.

Last year, there were 2.04 million international tourist arrivals to the country earning USD926 million in tourism income.

Source : TTR Weekly

Myanmar build death railway museum

The Mon State government has awarded a company a contract to develop a museum,  hotel, restaurant and other tourist facilities at the site of the World War II death railway in Thanbyuzayat Township, southeast Myanmar.

Irrawaddy media reported Tala Mon Company Ltd. was granted rights to develop the site to create an international tourist attraction on par with what Thailand accomplished in Kanchanaburi province at the fabled River Kwai bridge.

The Mon State minister for civil development, Toe Toe Aung, was quoted as saying: “We have historic pictures …we intend to recreate scenes from the Death Railway era.”

The minister expects the museum to be completed by June next year.

The state government will also ask the Railways Ministry to construct a replica one-mile long piece of track that would symbolise the Death Railway. There are very few traces of the railway line remaining in Thanbyuzayat Township.

An area of about 6.6 acres has been set aside for the plan.

At present the only reminder of the railway is a sign post that announces the “Myanmar-Thailand-Japanese Death Railway line started here.” An old steam locomotive stands on a short section of track. A damaged statue of a soldier stands in tall grass.

During the World War II occupation, the Japanese army forced tens of thousands of prisoners of war from Britain, the Netherlands and Australia, along with many Burmese and other Southeast Asian nationals, to construct a railway connecting Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province with Mon State’s Thanbyuzayat Township.

More than 16,000 prisoners of war died during the construction, or about 38 prisoners for every kilometre of the 415-km railway.

In Thailand, remnants of the railway, two museums and a memorial park have long drawn thousands of international visitors, something the Mon State authorities hopes to replicate.

Tala Mon Company Limited general manager, Naing Lwin, said: “If successful we will be able to attract many tourists interested in World War II history.”

He said the firm would build a museum, a hotel, a gift shop, restaurants, a bus station, a swimming pool and “a reception hall for wedding ceremonies.”

Tala Mon Company is owned by wealthy Mon businessman Min Banyar San, who has interests in public transport through his Tala Mon Bus Company.

Mon State is an administrative division of Myanmar sandwiched between Kayin State on the east, the Andaman Sea on the west, Bago Region on the north and Tanintharyi Region on the south, and has a short border with Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province at its southeastern tip.

Source : TTR Weekly

Myanmar tourism looks for loans

Due to the rapid growth of tourist arrivals and expansion of the tourism industry, Myanmar will establish a Tourism Development Bank to help support tourism and hotel developers.

Eleven Myanmar media quoted Myanmar Tourism Federation’s co-general secretary, Tin Tun Aung, saying Myanmar’s tourism sector has grown at such a rapid pace it needs to raise capital far beyond the scope of commercial banks.

“To respond to this need, a Tourism Development Bank is due to open to support hotels, tourism companies and local businesses gain access to capital.”

He added: “The bank will mainly cater to entrepreneurs in the tourism sector offering them loans and technical aid.”

The bank has already received permission from the government to establish operations, which will begin by establishing a company, inviting investors, selling shares before hosting tourism expos attended by hotel and tourism developers seeking capital.

International tourist arrivals rose sharply, from 800,000 in 2011 to about 2.04 million in 2013 generating USD926 million.

So far, this year tourist arrivals to Myanmar are on target to reach 3 million, and the revenue generated by the tourism sector should exceed USD1 billion.

Source : TTR Weekly

Myanmar: Quality issues surface

Myanmar Tourism Federation says the country needs to improve its tourist services as arrivals have reached a record high.

The Eleven Myanmar media quoted the federation joint-secretary,  Tin Tun Aung, as saying that the country is experiencing a tourism boom and quality service was essential to maintain the country’s positive image.

“There should be better services with lower fees across the whole country,” he said, hinting that the increases in tourism was having a negative impact on service delivery and causing prices to rise to a level that increased complaints.

The country recorded 300,000 to 400,000 visits in 2009. Now annual arrivals are on track to hit 3 million by the second week of December.

Tourism revenue is estimated at USD905 million for the current financial year. (fiscal year ends April). The 2011 to 2012 financial year recorded tourist arrivals of 1.6 million with a revenue estimate of USD534 million and 2012 to 2013 generated USD926 million with 2.04 million arrivals, the report said.

Hotels rooms are in high demand with 1,076 hotels and 42,037 rooms across the country. Last year, there were 923 hotels with 34,834 rooms, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

The ministry is drafting a tourism development plan and tourism is a priority sector in the export strategy of Ministry of Commerce.

The Tourism Master Plan plan suggests foreign visitor numbers will rise to 3 million by 2015 and 7.5 million by 2020.

Source : TTR Weekly

Ministry reports hotel expansion

Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism believes the room shortage is easing in the main tourist destination as there are now more than 1,000 hotels in the country with two-thirds of them located in Yangon, Mandalay and Shan State.

Eleven Myanmar news reported Mandalay region has the largest share with 329 hotels, followed by Yangon with 279 and Shan State, 200. Overall there are 1,076 registered properties.

New hotels are funded by foreign direct investment, mainly joint ventures with domestic companies, while there are a few that are using government-owned buildings leased to private entrepreneurs.

There are 31 hotels operated by foreign owners in Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Kawthoung, Techilek and Myeik.

Local tycoons have invested over USD667 million in the tourism sector and foreign companies have invested USD2 billion as of October, according to the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration.

The Myanmar Investment Commission gave the go-ahead to two local companies through what is called a build-operate-transfer agreement in October: Know The Truth Group Co Ltd will operate a world-class hotel in Hotel Zone 3, Ngwesaung Township, Ayeyawady Region, and Imperial Place Hotel Co Ltd will operate a five-star hotel in Hotel Zone 4, Nyaung-U Township, Mandalay Region.

Source : TTR Weekly

Tourism tops investment poll

The tourist sector is receiving the most local investment, followed by industry and construction, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).

Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the MIC, said: “Investment has been allowed since 2011-2012. There were 34 projects by Myanmar investors worth Ks 240 billion (US$240 million) in 2011-2012. A total of 65 projects worth Ks 1,104 billion were started in 2012-2013. There were 68 projects worth Ks 1,268 billion in 2013-2014 and 22 worth Ks 587 billon by the end of September.”

There are 26 entry points to Myanmar used by foreigners, mostly border gates and tourism has exceeded the 2013 record. In addition, foreign investment in hotels and the tourism sector is also increasing and foreign investment in hotel construction has exceeded $2 billion.

Total investment in real estate by the end of October was $1,3 billion.

In three years of foreign investment in Myanmar, the electricity sector has received the most, followed by production and telecoms.

“Before 2011, investment in Myanmar relied on natural resources. In 2012, investment in industry increased while investment in raw materials fell. Funding of industry, hotel construction, tourism and telecoms has risen especially,” said Aung Naing Oo.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Disease exams hastened during travel season

In preparation for the heavy influx of tourists during travel season, highly-infectious disease examinations for travellers have been speeded up at entrances and exits to ensure that these diseases do not spread into or out of the country.

Following the instruction of the National Health Committee and National Contingency Plan for Avian Influenza, the Ministry of Health has implemented infection prevention and control processes to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus and other highly-infectious diseases, including MERS-CoV, SARS, and H5N1.

These tasks are carried out by Health Teams in international airports, sea ports and border gates. The teams are trained to spot people infected with various diseases and hospitalize them in Nay Pyi Taw’s 1000-bed Hospital, Yangon General Hospital, Wai Bar Gi Specialist Hospital, as well as 70 district-level hospitals.

Infrared Fever Screening Systems (Thermal Scans) are set up in various airports around the country. Two devices are being used in Nay Pyi Taw International Airport, two in Yangon International Airport, one in Mandalay International Airport, and one in Nyaung-U Airport.

Source : Eleven Myanmar