Myanmar Travel and TourismBurma Travel and Tourism
Burma to build a strong basis for tourist development | Myanmar 2016
Since its unfreezing with the West and its opening to the outside community in 2010, Myanmar has been the destination of several hundred thousand migrants. Whilst some are keen to see the wealthy cultures and legacy of the Southeast Asiatic people, others are just keen to see the once solitary land before it changes forever.
Simultaneously, the economical growth expands the local tourist industry with local ressources to discover the diverse tourist destination of their state. In order to achieve its tourist objectives, the state must present modernisation schemes for outdated infrastructures which are vital not only for the tourist industry but also for the entire population.
The majority of Myanmar's travelers take a well-trodden tour through Myanmar's diverse historical and heritage monuments, from the holy Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon to the archeological marvels of Bagan, the Ngapali beach and the unparalleled civilization of the Inle Lake fishermen's community. Now Myanmar is urging international travelers to discover new places and working to enhance the overall travelling experiences, from hotels to air connections.
Myanmar Tourism Master Plan 2013-20 (MTMP) provides the frameworks for developing the Myanmar tourist megaplan. This will be funded by the Chinese and Myanmar governments, as well as individual investment and Myanmar's partner developers. Goverment agents have made more than seven areas of focus for privatization, and, when the land reaches its top goals, tourist revenues are anticipated to attain $10. 27bn in 2020, by which point the agencies for up to 1. 5m members of staff to work in tourism-related businesses, up from just 293,700 in 2012 and contribute a lot to the economy.
By 2020, the major areas of activity for the tourist industry are likely to be foods and beverages, transport as well as housing, recreational and leisure activities and touring. "Aim of this MDP is to maximize the contributions of the tourist industry to domestic jobs and revenue creation while at the same time ensure that the socioeconomic advantages of the tourist industry are fairly distributed," U Htay Aung, Secretary of State for Hotels and tourism, said in his preface to the document.
Burma has experienced an unparalleled rise in tourist arrivals in the last five years, to 3.08 million in 2014, compared to 2.04 million in 2013 and 791,505 in 2010, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MHT). Despite impressing numbers for 2015 point to more moderate growth amid the insecurity surrounding the country's first elections to democracy, which took place in early November 2015.
Aung San Suu Kyi secures the National League for Democracy's win, with the new government taking over in March 2016 (see Country Profile). The number of visits was also influenced by policy development in Thailand, especially in Bangkok, the most important gate for Myanmar to be reached.
At the opening of the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Naypyitaw in January 2015, retiring U Thein Sein voiced the expectation that up to 5 million visitors would come to the state in 2015. Myanmar Marketing Committee Chairman and Myanmar Tourism Federation (MTF) Executive Director U Wai Yar Zar U Pyoe said that reaching such a goal was probably "quite difficult".
Nevertheless, he is confident that Myanmar will continue to be open to external investments even after the new government seizes office in March 2016. MTF figures show that approximately 1.58 million persons traveled to Myanmar in the first six month of 2015, using the country's three major airfields and checkpoints. Between January and May, about 61% of travelers crossed overland frontiers, three of them with Thailand, 13 with China, three with India and one with Laos.
Some of these people may have remained for less than 24 hrs, which according to the definition of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) means that they should not be considered as tourism. Most of the travellers arriving by plane traveled via Yangon Airport, which recorded 875,854 intercontinental flights between January and July 2015.
In 2014, overall expenditures for travel and accommodation amounted to 1.79 billion dollars, almost twice as much as in 2013. Expatriates stay longer and spend more. In 2014, the federal budget has risen to $170 per person per night, up from $145 in 2013. According to 2014 figures, 37% of all travellers came from abroad, with 71% coming from Asia.
These numbers are a reflection of the large number of daily excursions for businesses and tourists at important border crossings, such as the Mae Sot crossings in the north of Thailand. A lot of Thais also visit Myanmar for religion and visit important places like the Golden Rock Pagoda. The improvement in traffic and the relaxation of visas in 2015 should increase the number of tourists.
In 2014, about 17% of Western European visitor numbers, headed by France, the UK and Germany, were registered. The North Americans accounted for about 7% of overseas visits. Myanmar's recent economic expansion and the associated increase in available incomes has also given the country's inhabitants more opportunities to spend their holidays.
Pilgrimage is a favourite with the locals, and guesthouses, accommodation and transportation have been created to meet their needs. For 2014, the federal budget estimates the overall number of German visitors at 2.2 million, with hotel and pension expenditure up to 650 million MMK. No figures on internal travel and accommodation have been published for 2013.
- The MHT has said the overall contribution ot the travel and leisure to the economics was around $3. 2014 bn 2. WTTC (World Traveller & Tourist Council) estimates the sum at MMK3. According to the WTTC, this figure will increase by 6. 7% in 2015 and reaches approximately MMK7.
Firstly, "total revenue" relates to revenue from tourist activity, while the latter relates to "direct contributions to GDP", i.e. overall revenue plus general government expenditures for tourist and recreational use. WTTC also has its own data base on tourist expenses, so its numbers may differ from those of the Department.
MHT is also encouraging to eliminate day-trippers from its arrival records so that the numbers meet UNWTO norms and the number of real visitors can be more precisely recorded. Recent WTTC statistics indicate that 823,000 positions were created in 2013, or 3% of the overall number of positions in the economy, with a projected 4% share by 2024.
With 676,578 square kilometers, Myanmar is the worlds foremost land area and the single widest on the Southeast Asian continent. Myanmar came 134th out of 141 nations in the 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index of the WEF, behind Haiti, Sierra Leone and Lesotho, among others. Aside from its efforts to prioritise the tourist sector, the economy has performed poorly in a number of areas, in particular in terms of transportation and ICT propensity.
For example, the MTMP is expressly committed to improving the transportation structure, and an aviation policy is also being developed to "support the development of travel and trade". Corresponding to the DCA, cross-border air travel in and out of the countryside became at 3. 1m persons in 2014, up 20% on the 2. 66m persons noted in 2013, and a 157% leap to 1. 25m for 2010.
As is the fetching of traffic to the land, the importance of aviation to the tourist industry is emphasized by the number of travelers taking home flights that rose to 2. 22m in 2014, up 31% to 1. 69m for 2012. In view of the state of the country's streets and railroads, many travellers opt for regional services to see the main attractions.
There are currently nine national carriers flying to 27 Myanmar cities, but hard -copy travel is still the rule, and air travel is often cut or blended when the airline does not offer enough for the air. The Yangon Airport will remain the most important portal to the nation and is currently being extended to up to 6 million departures per year by 2017.
About 31 carriers, among them Malaysia's AirAsia, Thai Airways, Singapore Airways, China Eastern, China Southern and Qatar Airways, provide services to Yangon. Hanthawaddy's new intercontinental airfield (approx. 70 km from Yangon ), which will have a passenger volume of 12 million after its completion in 2022, will also be further expanded.
At the $1. 5-bn International Terminal is planted by a syndicate of Singapore and Japan and is what the DCA refers to as a "hybrid public-private partnership", and involves both FDI brought together through government aid. for the modernization and aircraft manufacturing for the 2015/16 financial year ($21.1 million), with Japan making a significant $12 million capital expenditure as part of this funding (see Transport chapter).
Burma continues to rely mainly on overseas companies to transport passengers to and from Myanmar, although some local companies are now operating flights internationally. Since August 2015, Myanmar Airways has been operating three weekly flights between Yangon and Singapore, in competition with Singapore Air and its SilkAir region as well as the low-cost carrier TigerAir and JetStar Asia.
Air Bagan ceased operation in August 2015 after a string of events. In order to counter this, some Yangon travel agents are prepared to modify airlines' reservations if customers raise concerns about travel with certain airlines. Myanmar even under armed domination drew a constant stream of older, well-heeled visitors, but in 1995 the then head of the regime, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, asked visitors to "stay at home and study some of the many records of the country's people.
Together with the remainder of the state, the already finite number of four- and five-star establishments declined, as the West's penalties kept away investment and most major global hospitality managers. Already today, older real estate, even those that are sold as five-star resembles and often no longer do justice to the situation of older buildings in other parts of Southeast Asia two or three decade-ear.
In recent years, however, the pace of growth has been accelerating and the profile of multinational hoteliers has begun to develop. Fiercer competitive pressure has compelled current hoteliers such as Sedona, part of Singapore¡¯s Keppel Land Hospitality Management, to refurbish their property. Also the room prices sank, since are complained tourist that the hotels are too expensively and no good price performance ratio would be.
In 2014, according to the MHT, Yangon had 287 establishments with 13,146 rooms. There were 1106 establishments in the entire state with 43,243 rooms, 24% more than in 2013. According to the Colliers International property consulting firm, more than 1000 new rooms are scheduled to be available in Yangon in 2015.
AccorHotels, the world's leading hotels group with around 3792 hotels worldwide, is extending its offering in Myanmar's most vibrant and vibrant town, Yangon, and other key travel locations. Novotel Yangon Max, with 366 rooms, opened in 2015, joins Lake Garden in Naypyitaw's Naypyitaw administration center and Novotel Inle Lake, which opened in 2014.
The AccorHotels Myanmar property development program is based on the development of Myanmar through a number of JVs, with the home owned by the company and managed by the real estate company in France. Two Ibis houses are also scheduled to open in the state. Melia, the international group of more than 350 international owned and operated Spaniards, will open the Melia Yangon 2016 luxurious Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) Myanmar Centre.
HAGL will have 400 rooms, a spas, several hotels and a number of conference rooms and is Meliá's first Myanmar based establishment. In February 2014, work began on the glass-covered Daewoo Amara Project near Lake Inya. Comprised of 661 rooms in two spires, a five-star resort and an appartment house, the $200 million facility is scheduled to open in 2016.
Korea's investment, Daewoo International and Lotte Hotels & Resorts, own 85% of the property being developed under a build-operate-transfer agreement with the Myanmar authorities. Meanwhile, the Kempinski Hoteliers are working with Thai and Myanmar counterparts to turn the Strand Road State House into a luxurious city.
Kempinski, who already runs a 141-room Naypyitaw resort, will administer the new real estate. In spite of interest from Europe and the Far East, the majority of hotels continue to be invested in the Asia-Pacific area, led by Singapore, which is also Myanmar's largest international developer. In 2014, international investments in the hotels sector amounted to 2.56 billion dollars, with a combined of 46 properties and 9443 rooms.
Less fearful people have started opening smaller boutiques for independents. In 2013 and 2014, according to the German authorities, about a third of travelers traveled separately, among them local people who wanted to discover and leave the well-trodden paths. This type of project is welcome by the federal administration, which is committed to promoting sustainability in the tourist industry.
Burma is also looking for investment to open up some of the country's more distant sites. Southwest of the Mergui (or Myeik) archipelago (see analysis), Myanmar has the capacity to provide the visitor with much more than the legacy and civilization that are currently the mainstays of the country's tourist industries, from mountain walking to the sandy beaches of the Mergui (or Myeik) archipelago.
A lot of Myanmar tourists go over the Thai frontier in Ranong, where they get a visitor permit that only allows a brief stay in Mergui instead of flying through Yangon. The tour organisers are calling on the public administrations to facilitate the issuing of visas at the checkpoint and to allow travellers to go abroad.
There is currently only one large accommodation in the island - the Myanmar Andaman Reserve - which was completely renovated in 2014. With 22 cabins on Macleod Island, the hostel is more of an eco-lodge than a luxurious area. A further building is currently underway and in 2015 the federal administration considered whether the building of up to 30 properties should be approved.
Agencies are also interested in highlighting possible open-air adventure in the northern and western parts of the countryside, such as Chin State, where the Himalayan spurs begin and mountain and river cross the area. In January 2015, Myanmar was the host of the ASEAN Tourism Forum and intensified the year' s focus on the development of globalization.
In 2015, the country's tourist industry visited the three biggest global trade fairs, ITB Berlin, the World travel Market in London and the Japan Association of travel agents Expo. MTMP also recognizes the need for Myanmar to distribute departures throughout the year, and many banks are now offering sharp rebates during the month of May-October.
In addition, an effort is being made to improve the standard of services that often do not live up to the expectation of those who are accustomed to good care in other parts of Asia. "It' s very important[for us] to educate our staff to provide our guests with a high level of service," U Pyoe Wai Yar Za said to OBG.
" Many of Myanmar's top rated establishments now engage foreign nationals or Myanmar residents who have been living and working abroad as general manager or in other executive roles to run their businesses. For example, AkkorHotels runs its own training college to educate employees for its real estate and businesses in Myanmar. Myanmar has been a central planning country for many years, leaving behind many outdated rules, some of which date back to the colonisation period, and a bureaucratic structure of sometimes discouraging proportions.
This can make travelers' travel plans and logistical processes a bit timeconsuming and costly to travel to certain areas of the state. In addition, it makes it unpredictable for investments, especially those from abroad. Much of the industry is regulated by the Hotel and Tourist Law of 1993. The MHT' function is defined and provides information on investments in the tourist industry and approval processes.
Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy describes the country's efforts to establish an industrial community that creates employment for indigenous peoples while maintaining the unparalleled diversity of Myanmar's culture and nature. The new legislation adopted by Parliament since the beginning of the 2011 reform also has an effect on the tourist trade. In 2012, the Foreign Investment Act made the tourist trade a "priority" developing area, showing where and how foreign investors can do so.
Additionally, the minimum wage law came into effect in September 2015, which provides for a minimum of $2.80 for an eight-hour working week. There was widespread support for the launch of an on-line visa for travellers arriving via Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw. Visitor can now request their visa on-line and obtain a permit within five business hours.
In July 2015, the program was extended to trade attendees, but is not available at shore overpasses. They are also working to conclude a series of bi-lateral migration treaties to facilitate travelling not only for Myanmar's residents but also for Myanmar's residents who want to go overboard. In July 2015, an EU-Thailand deal was signed which allows nationals of both nations to stay without a visas for up to 14 day.
Myanmar, however, has not yet transposed the ASEAN Framework Convention on Visas, which aims inter alia to stimulate the travel industry and to grant ASEAN nationals a 14-day exemption from the visas of other ASEAN countries that are also parties to the Covenant.
An expanding ATM system and greater acceptability of payment transactions make the lives of foreign customers much simpler. 2016 was declared a "Visit Myanmar Year" by the MHT and offers the possibility to intensify the country's internal sales campaign to attract newcomers.
Given the need for substantial capacities in hotels and new transportation infrastructures, the key challenges are to sustainably steer the development of the tourist industry so that all stakeholders can profit from it.