Yangon plans airport-downtown shuttle service

The new buses from Ankai Company are seen.  Photo: Ankai
Authorities are working on setting routes for a shuttle service business between Yangon International Airport and downtown Yangon.

With new buses imported from China, the service will be placed into operation soon, said Dr Maung Aung, Secretary of the Yangon Region Transport Authorities.
An agreement to buy 1,000 new city buses for the roads of Yangon was signed in April between Yangon Bus Service and two Chinese companies.
The China Yutong Company and Ankai will sell 500 buses each to the YBS. Delivery of the buses are expected soon, officials said.
The YBS needed buses for their commuter service, for which the Yangon Region Government and Chinese Government ne-gotiated to supply city buses on a government-to-government (G-to-G) basis and finally entered into an agreement that would have the buses arrive in Yangon starting at the end of May, said Dr Maung Aung.— Su Hnin Le

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar

Golf tourism needs long drive out of bunkers

Myanmar is far from a golf tourist destination despite having many courses in different cities, said U Phyo Wai Yar Zar, vice chair of Myanmar Tourism Federation.

Speaking to The Myanmar Times, he said that golf tourism has a potential niche market but the local courses are not up to the expectations of international golfers.

“We have to try hard if we want to make Myanmar a golfing destination. We can count the number of courses that are of international standard. But that number cannot be compared with other regional countries which have already developed the game and facilities,” U Phyo Wai Yar Zar said.

There are no more than 10 tour agencies offering packages, including golfing.

In Vietnam, there are 32 international courses. Myanmar has about 60 courses in the whole country.

Daw Su Su Tin, vice chair of Myanmar Tourism Marketing Committee, said, “Some tourists have tried golf courses in neighbouring countries. A few tours operators are offering a golf program in their itinerary but we cannot promote golfing tourism too much.”

“Myanmar has fine weather, not as expensive as other countries and has a huge potential for golf tourism development,” she said.

U Phyo Wai Yar Zar added, “People know Myanmar as a cultural tourism centre. Perhaps now is the time to promote traditional sport related tourism like chinlone (caneball) and other Myanmar sporting events.”

“Chinlone as a sporting event cannot be found in other countries. Relevant government departments should make it popular as a tourism product,” he said.

“Also, the golfing market is for high-end tourists who are mostly big spenders. Other facilities such as high-end restaurants and amenities need to be developed,” he said.

Currently, there are no more than six or seven international fine dining restaurants in Yangon.

U Phyo Wai Yar Zar said, “We should first get the primary requirements done up and then continue with other things,” he said.

“As I know, there’s no website, specific market figures on golfing for tourists. Concerned authorities need to build up the human capital first and the required infrastructure before promoting golf as a product,” he said.

“We have no information yet about the various courses and it is hard to find out who are those interested in golfing in Myanmar. Golfing is the best way to attract visitors as part of tourism,” U Phyo Wai Yar Zar said.

Source : Myanmar Times

Smoke-free zones to be designated in public areas

A sign banning smoking is displayed around the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Smoke-free zones are to be designated in public areas in six regions and states. Photo – AFP
Public areas in cities across six regions and states will be designated smoke-free zones this year.

Dr Than Sein, Public Health Foundation chair, said, “We will designate smoke-free areas in public locations to prevent youths from smoking and to protect from diseases that are caused by passive smoking.”

The six regions and states that will have smoke-free zones are Mandalay, Yangon, Sagaing, Magwe regions, Kayin and Shan states.

The public areas to be designated smoke-free zones are hospitals, schools and pagodas in the townships from the six regions and states,

Dr Than Sein said the plan will be implemented with the cooperation of the regional and state governments.

U Naing Win Tun, a local of Mandalay and a smoker, said, “The plan of designating non-smoking areas is a way of protecting the health of children, elderly and women. That is why it is very good. But, there should be a plan for smokers and smoking zones should be designated for them.”

Currently, workshops are being held in the Mandalay and Magwe regions by the Public Health Foundation about designating smoke-free areas,

Discussions are also being held on designating smoke-free areas at three famous pagodas in Mandalay city, according to Dr Than Sein.

Translation by Win Thaw Tar

Source : Myanmar Times

Colonial structure in Toungoo needs renovation


The colonial-era building in Toungoo.


SITUATED in a village in the western part of Toungoo in Bago Region, a 100-year-old crumbling colonial building, which is currently used as a village monastery, needs renovation, said an abbot of the monastery.
The old residents of Ohpogon Village in Kinseik Village-tract say that the old building was the home of a family during the colonial era and had since been used as a branch office of Kempeitai, Japanese military police, said Sayadaw U Kawthala who moved to the building two years ago.
The Sayadaw said the roof and other parts of the two-storey structure have worn out, urging well-wishers to take part in the renovation plan. Taungoo was a dynasty that flourished between 1510-1539 and 1551-1552 and is famous in Myanmar history.
The city has numerous ancient structures including pagodas, temples, stupas and other historic attractions. Taungoo celebrated its 500th birthday in 2010.

Ko Lwin (Swa)

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar

Training to be held to conserve Ayeyawady dolphins with SMART technology


The Ayeyawady dolphin is an endangered species with a population less than a hundred.

To observe and conserve the Ayeyawady dolphin with SMART technology, 26 officers from Directorates of Fisheries of three Regions and States were trained as a second batch on May 8-9 under the arrangement of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), according to Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Officials from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has taught and educated 20 officers from Sagaing, 4 officers from Kachin State and 2 officers from Mandalay Region at the Institute of Directorates of Fisheries in Sagaing Region, said U Han Win deputy head of Department of Fisheries in Myanmar.
Using the SMART technologies in the Ayeyawady dolphin conservation areas can give better results in seizing illegal fishing and maintaining law and order of those areas by getting the update information. SMART software application enables to collect the data by the SMART Rangers in the conservation areas.
That can record threats to Ayeyawady dolphin, bio diversities, and natural distinct features, action taken against illegal fishing and distances and frequencies of monitoring.
As a result, management works on conservation of Ayeyawady dolphin will be more effective.


Source : Global New Light of Myanmar

Uber enters Myanmar with a licensed taxi service


Uber has launched its service in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma, over a month after going public with its expansion plan.

With a population of 50 million people and rapidly increasing internet adoption, Myanmar is seen by many tech firms as a market with much growth potential. Grab, Uber’s chief rival in Southeast Asia, entered the country’s capital Yangon in March with a beta launch, but Uber’s arrival in the city is notable because it comes with the backing of the national government. Principally, that’s because the service will only work with licensed drivers, Reuters reports, using the same model as Grab.

There’s plenty of logic behind that change of approach. Even after operating in Asia for four years, Uber’s service sits in a grey area that sometimes sees governments clamp down on ‘unlicensed’ drivers. In Myanmar, authorities are taking its arrival as an opportunity to advance its digitization since it doesn’t offer an immediate threat to existing taxis.

“I personally welcome Uber,” Phyo Min Thein, chief minister of the Yangon Region, said in a statement. “I believe Uber will help Myanmar becoming an ideal market in Southeast Asia by providing safety and improved services to our people and international tourists.”

U.S. ambassador Scot Marciel added that Uber can “improve urban mobility” and strengthen relations between the two countries.

The Myanmar launches marks the 57th country where the U.S. ride-sharing service is operational, but this market may just be its most intriguing. The internet was barely accessible in Myanmar before the country’s democratization in 2011, while cell phones and SIM cards were priced beyond almost all residents. Yet today, Myanmar has over 50 million registered SIM cards and an estimated five million-plus Facebook users.

“The country has leapfrogged straight to the world of smartphones and data,” David Madden, who runs Phandeeyar, a community project in Yangon that’s backed by Omidyar Network, told TechCrunch recently. “It’s only a matter of time before other international tech companies recognize the opportunity.”

It’s unclear when, or indeed whether, Uber will up the ante by introducing services like UberX, which enable anyone with a car to become a driver. Any such move would test its relationship with the government, which looks to be the pillar for this expansion.

Source : https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/11/uber-myanmar-launch/

Bagan cultural zone to be included in UNESCO

Pilgrims to Bagan, a region to be considered for the Memory of the World register, as seen on May 8. Maung Zaw / The Myanmar Times

A draft plan to designate Bagan as one of the World’s Heritage sites will be submitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in September.

Union Minister in the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture Thura U Aung Ko on May 6 said that Bagan would be expanded and spruced up.

“This will include Tant Kyi Taung (Tant Kyi Hill) which is on the western part of Ayeyawady river (in Magway region) and Yone Hloot Kyoon in the eastern part of Bagan. The area is estimated to be more than 20000 acres.

“The original area of the Bagan ancient cultural zone was 27970 acres and it will be 48099 acres after expansion. Although zones are expanded, they will not remove the townships, villages, hotels, motels and restaurants,” he said.

“These are the instructions of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to us. She said to give first priority to the residents when submitting the application to UNESCO. The residents will have to worry less about now and we will give priority to them if buildings are constructed in new areas,” he said.

Currently, Bagan’s ancient cultural zone is specified as Ancient Zone, Monumental Zone and Protected Zone. Bagan Myo Thit (new Bagan) and Nyaung Oo townships will be put into the Protected Zone and hotels and restaurants in those areas will be open for the long term and new buildings will also be constructed, he added.

“Unesco’s recognition will boost the value of our country’s treasures. If the area is included in the Memory of the World register, it will create many opportunities for locals in the region. We are expediting the process for regional development. The locals will suffer if we are late in registration,” said Thura U Aung Ko.

Department of Archaeology and National Museum (Bagan branch) director U Aung Kyaw Kyaw said in order to get Bagan included in the Memory of the World register, two teams are currently working on a draft to be submitted. At present, 60 percent of the draft has been completed, and UNESCO will send a reply regarding any additional requirements for the application submitted by Myanmar in January 2018. The investigations by UNESCO will take one whole year, and the result will be released in 2019.

Previously, an application to include Bagan in the Memory of the World register was sent in 1996. However, the application was rejected, partly because of poor management and partly due to the fact that Bagan was not classified as a heritage zone at the time. A reapplication is underway.

Ancient Pyu kingdoms were the first in Myanmar to achieve world heritage status, when UNESCO recognised these as world heritage sites in 2014. Some of the requirements for recognition include whether the natives value the region in the application, whether the region is internationally well-known and beneficial for the present and future generations.

– Translation by Khine Thazin Han and Swe Zin Moe

Source : Myanmar Times


Shwedagon pagoda to increase visitors fee

The entrance fees for the Shwedagon pagoda will be increased to K 10,000 from June 1st.

Currently the entrance fee is at K8,000 (or US$8) for foreigners and has been since 2014.

The ministry of religious affairs and culture director U Aung San Win told The Myanmar Times that the proposal was made by the pagoda’s trustees after a discussion with the ministry.

According to Shwedagon pagoda’s trustees, they adjusted the entrance fees to be in tandem with neighbouring countries such as the temple of Emerald Buddha in Bangkok and the Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Vivo Myanmar travel and destination chief executive officer U Ye Tun Oo told The Myanmar Times that changing the entrance fee does not affect the free independent travellers but would impact package tour operators as packages had been sold a year ahead.

“They can’t increase the price without giving prior notice because our package and itinerary have already been sold one year ahead. It would have been better to announce the change six months or one year earlier,” he said.

In 2016, more than 600,000 foreign visitors visited Shwedagon pagoda and they got K5 billion and over $1700 as entrance fees, according to a release by Shwedagon pagoda’s trustees.

Source : Myanmar Times

Tourist arrivals increased by 22 per cent in the first two months of 2017

A tourist couple seen at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

The arrival of visitors with tourist visas to Myanmar through international entry gates has increased by 22 per cent in the first two months of 2017 when compared to the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Although the number of tourists arriving via international entry gates was over 500,000 in January and February, 2016, the same period of this year saw 600,000 tourists arrive in Myanmar. The number of the tourists has increased in large part because the government has created new tourist destinations across the country.

“Another reason for the increased number of tourists can be attributed to a better cooperation between the tourism-related ministries and associations under the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism,” said an official from the directorate of hotels and tourism.

Previously, the immigration department counted foreign visitors who visited Myanmar from border gates as part of tourist arrivals. Starting in 2016, the department has only recorded the tourists who enter the country through international entry gates with a tourist visa.


Source : Global New Light of Myanmar

Hard Rock Cafe Opens First Location in Myanmar

Myanmar’s prominent rocker Zaw Win Htut (Right) is present at the opening of Hard Rock Cafe where his leather jacket is displayed.

Hard Rock Café, opened its first café in Myanmar on 27th April 2017 at the Myanmar Plaza in Yangon, continuing its expansion worldwide.
The 853 square-meter, state-of-the-art cafe highlights Hard Rock’s new design style and latest technology.
“Hard Rock Cafe has been looking forward to opening its first cafe in Myanmar and we could not have asked for a better destination to showcase the Hard Rock Cafe Yangon experience” said Steve Yang, Area Vice President Asia Pacific Hard Rock International. “We look forward to becoming a must-see venue for locals and visitors alike. We would like to congratulate our local franchise partners at MGS Resort and Entertainment Ltd, on this historic occasion”.
Hard Rock Cafe is located on the fourth floor roof-top of the Myanmar Plaza, this mall location is adjacent to the iconic Inya lake and positioned between two of the city’s newest hotels: Sedona & Melia Hotel. The cafe will seat indoor 192 guests, featuring a large feature bar, a VIP dining room and a custom built karaoke room.
Hard Rock Cafe also boasts a live indoor entertainment stage that will feature the best live music and Dj’s in Myanmar.
The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Malcolm Young, alongside contemporary artists such as Lady Gaga & Eminem. Additionally, Hard Rock Cafe Yangon will feature and display local Myanmar artist memorabilia from well known, respected musicians such as Htoo Eain Thin and Zaw Win Htut.

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar