Monthly Archives: October 2017

Yangon hospital is now a heritage building


The Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT) on Tuesday enshrined the Yangon General Hospital as a heritage building, the 19th building to be accorded such a status in Myanmar.

YHT officials led the installation of a commemorative Blue Plaque at the main ward of Yangon General Hospital building Tuesday morning to mark the edifice as one of the city’s historical heritage sites.

The hospital is the 19th Blue Plaque that YHT has installed in Yangon to highlight historical and colonial buildings.

The facility was designed by then head of Public Works Department, Henry Hoyne-Fox, and construction started in 1904 and took five years to complete.

It had the first bacteriological laboratory in Myanmar, and in the early 20th century, research conducted here contributed to the world’s medical knowledge.

“The Yangon General Hospital plays one of the crucial roles for the city, has witnessed countless historical events, and is an important section of Myanmar’s modern history, therefore, it is chosen to have the Blue Plaque,” the trust said in a statement.

The Blue Plaque Project is aimed at highlighting and commemorating buildings that are essential to Yangon city’s history, according to YHT.

The installation and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Blue Plaque was attended by Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein and regional government ministers.

In order to initiate the Blue Plaque Project, Royal Philips Corporation has funded US$75,000 for surveying historical sites in Yangon as well as production and installation of the plaques.

“The most effective and revealing method to display Yangon’s history is by installing the Blue Plaque, and by doing that, visitors of all ages can learn about the city’s rich history,” the YHT statement said

YHT was first established in 2012, and the first Blue Plaque was installed on August 9, 2014 at Yangon City Hall, one of the historical structures.

Source : Myanmar Times

Japan to fund upgrade of Bagan airport


Japan will provide grants worth $42 million to cover the upgrade of Nyaung U Airport in Bagan, U Ye Htut Aung, deputy director general of Department of Civil Aviation told The Myanmar Times on October 24. The upgrades will be done in co-operation with Japanese companies.

“We can start the construction in 2018 after getting the grants from the Japanese government. Larger aircrafts can take off and land at Nyaung-U Airport in 2019, after the airport upgrading is complete,” he said.

Work on the airport is commencing on the back of a national initiative to promote tourism in Myanmar, particularly in Bagan. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is negotiating with several regional airlines to fly direct routes to Bagan.

“Bangkok Airways is interested to fly this route but their plan is not to run a direct flight between Bagan and Siem Reap. They just want to fly via Bangkok transit between these two destinations. We are still negotiating with them to fly direct,” U Ye Htut Aung said. Earlier, talks between Myanmar and Cambodia to operate direct flights between Siem Reap and Bagan to promote tourism had fallen through.

Damage control

The upgrading of Nyaung U, while necessary to promote tourism and attract foreign direct investments, has nonetheless met with objection from several parties.

They include the Department of Archaeology as well as the national museum and library. They pointed out that the vibration and noise created by the larger and higher number of aircraft expected could cause long term damage to the heritage sites in the area.

Currently, the Department of Arc-haeology allows only ATR and Embraer 190 aircraft, which can carry a maximum of 100 people, to take off and land at Nyaung-U.

“There is no technical survey on the damage caused by the airport yet by Department of Archaeology. They are just worried that the higher traffic and larger aircraft will impact the heritage monuments due to the vibration and noise of jet aircrafts. But there has no damage on the heritage buildings as a result of aircraft until today,” U Ye Htut Aung said.

In any case, the Japanese technician teams have commenced on-the-ground surveys since last month with regards to what kinds of aircrafts can cause damage to the environment and the heritage area, he said.

“We will start the upgrading work after getting results of the survey. We won’t allow the taking off and landing of aircraft that will cause damage to our heritage buildings,” U Ye Htut Aung said.

Source : Myanmar Times

Myanmar to launch satellite in 2019

Myanmar has planned to launch its own satellite system MyanmarSat-2 in June in 2019, official Global New Light of Myanmar reported on Saturday. To establish state-owned satellite system, the three ways — Condosat which is to lease the use of satellite transponder of another country, joint ownership system and total ownership system — are needed to be done, Vice President U Myint Swe told a coordination meeting of the steering committee in Nay Pyi Taw.

The MyanmarSat-2 will be used on joint ownership system while the MyanmarSat-1 is currently used on lease system.

The project will cost about US$155.7 million. The Vice President urged the committee to put the Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) of the transponder as an unchangeable provision in the contract. The vice president also called on the ministries which are currently working for MyanmarSat-1 using the foreign satellite to hire Myanmar Sat-2 after their contracts with foreign firms expire.

Source : Myanmar Times

Inbound tours popular among locals

The number of inbound tour visitors have increased year on year, said Dr Myo Gyi, the vice chairman of Domestic Pilgrimages and Tour Operators Association.
“The number of holidaymakers has risen. More tour destinations are created across the country”, he added.
The number of visitors doubled from that of three years ago. There were 7.1 million domestic travellers in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Most of them are day trippers as well as 4-day 3-night tour visitors.
“A person spends Ks 100,000 in a minimum for a route and the local visitors purchase souvenirs and make donations.
They play a vital role in inbound tours and so they must not be neglected and be given special attention”, he continued.
Previously, only Taunggyi, Inle, Bagan, Kyaiktiyo hosted large numbers of local visitors. More recently, the Myeik Archipelago, Ava, Sri Ksetra (Thayakhittaya), and the Phoe Kyar Elephant Camp have attracted the attention of local travellers.
Apart from January, May and June, each region and state is crowded with local pilgrims and visitors during public holidays. “Chin State and Kawthoung are designated as new tourism places in the coming open season. Kachin trips, which were suspended, will be opened again, said a pilgrimage operator.
Trips linked with the Domestic Pilgrimages and Tour Operators Association looks to be safer and sounder with the services of their skillful and friendly tour guides, said U Myo Gyi.
“Our pilgrimage has started to practice garbage collection during our trips in order to raise awareness of environmental conservation and to keep the environment clean”, he added.

May Thet Hnin

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar

Nok Air launches new flights between Mae Sot and Yangon

New flights to link Mae Sot and Yangon

The Nation/ANN – Nok Air is launching a new international direct flight between Mae Sot and Yangon, starting from 29 October. The airline began accepting reservations on the route from 19 September.

From October to December, this year, Nok Air will operate three return flights per week on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

From January to February, next year, the frequency will be increased to four return flights per week, with an extra flight on Thursday.

From March 2018 onwards, there will be a new return flight every Saturday, bringing the frequency on the Mae Sot – Yangon route to five flights per week.

Nok Air will operate on the route using its new Bombardier Q400 aircraft with 86 seats.

Mae Sot is Thailand’s westernmost district, located about 86 kilometres from the city of Tak. Facing Myanmar on the opposite bank of the Moei River, Mae Sot is a major trading spot for jade and gems and for general shopping for Burmese clothing, decorative items, original Burmese blankets and slippers, and so on.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Singapore investors channeling private equity to Myanmar SMEs

A worker at a Myanmar pharmaceutical factory. Singapore private equity firm Credera Group is raising funds to invest in sectors including healthcare. Photo: The Myanmar Times

Credera Group, a Singapore private equity (PE) firm, is raising a $100 million PE fund to invest in greenfield ventures in the finance, manufacturing and consumer product sectors in Myanmar, according to DealStreetAsia

The PE firm is currently in advanced talks with stakeholders in those areas and “a lot of the deals are getting closer to fruition,” Gaurav Manghnani, CEO of Credera Group was reported as saying.

Despite over 250 microfinance institutions and banks in the country, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Myanmar often face challenges in obtaining the funds they need to expand owing to stringent bank loan regulations and under-developed financial infrastructure.

It is this gap in the SME lending space that Credera Group is betting on. Currently, the PE firm is already in the process of teaming up with an Indian non-banking financial company as a strategic partner to co-invest and set up an equipment finance venture in Myanmar.

It also sees opportunities in the import substitution space, saying that the most lucrative investments can be found in this sector. It is currently looking to set up a sugar factory in Karen State and is also been evaluating possible investments in the cement manufacturing sector.

Education and healthcare are two other spaces of high interest to Credera Group. DealStreetAsia reports that the PE firm has looked into a couple of deals in the higher education space and is likely to expand its venture with a young professional team of entrepreneurs of Myanmar.

In the healthcare space, Manghnani said Credera is more interested in niche services than hospitals. It is reported to be searching for a potential local partner to invest in this space as well as operating partner that understands the dynamics of Myanmar.

Source : Myanmar Times

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier increases Yangon flights

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Source : Myanmar Times 

Foreigner fees to rise at Mandalay Hill

A submission has been issued to Mandalay Region government to increase entrance fees to Mandalay Hill for foreigners, said Mandalay Hill trustee board chair U Thein Tun. 

The matter had already been submitted to the government last month, the trustee board said, on October 9.

“Right now, since we did not receive any reply from the regional government, we cannot start collecting increased fees. It will be collected when the approval is granted. Present fee is still K1000,” the official said.

Regarding the inquiry to the Mandalay regional government, an official replied that due to more imminent business, the discussion on the topic had to be delayed. The increase of entrance fees to Mandalay Hill has not yet been discussed.

The proposal suggests raising fees from the current price (K1000) established in April 2015 to K3000 for foreign tourists.

“The current fee is extremely low. The new rate is also not that much. Foreign tourists will be able to afford it,” explained U Thein Tun.

The official further explains that the price hike aims at palliating the decrease in revenue from photography services, victim of smartphone pictures.

“The famous pagodas are visited by a lot of foreigners. In order to derive some revenue, we started collecting fees. Instead of asking money from tourists, we should ask the shops to sell items to them. 

“Then we should collect money from the shops. Although it’s true that tourists are coming here because they have money, it does not mean that they want to pay for everything,” said U Soe Win, a tourist guide from Mandalay.

The number of tourists coming to the hill during travel season is 500 to 700 per day, while it was only about 200 at other times, the records revealed.

From the beginning of the year until August, more than 66,000 foreign visitors toured Mandalay Hill, generating over K66 million in taxes, according to official records.

Source : Myanmar Times