Booming Myanmar seeks investors for its hotel and tourism industry

Tourists and business people flooding into Myanmar since the country opened to the world just a few years ago make considerable investments into tourism and hospital infrastructure necessary, the audience of the third annual Myanmar Hospitality and Tourism Conference held in the country’s capital Naypyitaw on June 9 was told.
The event, which was well attended by more than 200 delegates from 15 countries, focused on challenges and opportunities in Myanmar’s booming hospitality and tourism sector.

Myanmar has experienced unprecedented growth in tourist arrivals since 2010 when visitor restrictions were eased. From a meagre 791,000 foreign tourists in 2010, the numbers surged to 3mn tourists in 2014, a growth rate of 51% over 2013 and a whopping 280% over 2010.

Last year, nearly 820,000 travellers entered through Yangon, which is a 46.1% year-on-year increase. Myanmar’s overall forecast for 2015 was initially set at 4.5mn foreign visitors, but there are expectations that the number will reach 5mn as the surge in foreign direct investment brings with it a steadily growing inflow of business travellers.
“With such bright prospects for the tourism industry, Myanmar needs a sound hospitality infrastructure in place to meet the ever increasing demand from both business and leisure travellers,” U Htay Aung, Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar , addressed potential investors at the conference.

At present, there are 1,186 hotels and guesthouses in the country that provide 46,690 rooms, figures from the Hotels and Tourism Ministry reveal, of which 306 hotels with 14,251 rooms are located in Yangon. This is considered too few to accommodate the rush of visitors, especially in the premium segment preferred by business travellers who have to cope with Yangon’s almost always fully-booked seven five-star hotels that are constantly buzzing with US, European, Japanese and Singaporean guests in business suites and hosting one conference after the other .

Foreign hotel brands that so far invested in the country include Kempinski, Amara, Centara, Dusit, Melia, Accor’s Novotel, Shangri-La, Orient-Express, Tangram, Hilton, Sedona, Best Western and Savills. Starwood will open the Sheraton Yangon, its first hotel in Myanmar, in 2017, while Marriott, according to its Asia-Pacific president Simon Cooper, has “ongoing discussions with potential partners” in the country.

Goh York Lin, president of the Myanmar branch of Singapore’s property company Keppel Land which operates hotels in Yangon and Mandalay under the Sedona brand, said that hospitality investors should adopt a long-term perspective on doing business in Myanmar.

“Myanmar is only at the beginning of a long-run economic growth. Investors with a strategic entry plan will be better rewarded than those who take on opportunistic ventures,” Lin said.

For resort hotels, high potential lies in the development of the Mergui Archipelago of about 800 pristine and untouched islands in Myanmar’s southern Andaman Sea, which is to be developed as a new tourism destination.

According to Sai Kyaw Ohn, Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Hotels and Tourism, up to 30 hotel and resort projects should be approved by December this year in the region. One of the most spectacular among these projects is the $1.2bn LuxDream Island project by Singaporean developer Zochwell Group branded “the next Phuket” that will feature a high-end marina, luxury hotels, a theme park and other entertainment venues on a 282-hectare island. Zochwell is currently seeking approval for the mega-project.

As per figures from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), foreign direct investment in the hotels and tourism sector in the country made up for 3.91%, or S2.21bn, of the total approved foreign direct investment in the first four months of 2015. Overall, since the country’s new foreign investment law came into effect in 2012, 48 hotel projects have been approved, of which 33 are already completed and most the rest is expected to be launched before 2018. Singapore is topping the list of foreign hospitality investors in terms of the number of projects and volume of investment, ahead of Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Vietnam. Interestingly, hotel companies from the Middle East are nowhere to be seen yet.


Source: Gulf Time

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