Present Time in Myanmar

The Present in Myanmar

Increasing numbers of smartphone users offer opportunities - and frustrations. The UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari meets the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time in a year. There is none of this necessary evidence here. Gardener, Myanmar Agriculture Service, Yangon, Myanmar. To date, no research on avocado has been conducted in Myanmar.

Myanmar: Is now a good moment to leave?

On Monday, US President Barack Obama's visit to Myanmar brings the once-retired country, which has initiated a range of reform measures over the past two years after centuries of oppressive army domination, more into the public eye. This includes the suspension of penalties, the liberation of Burma's detainees and the introduction of the Myanmar single exchange rate, which is currently traded at around 850 kyat (pronounced "chat") against the US dollars.

Obama's attendance will give further impulses to the interest in Myanmar. It is encouraging them to enter the markets, businesses in Myanmar will find it easy to do businesses, and any ethical or security concerns foreigners may have about coming to Myanmar have vanished. Over the past 12 moth-go-now period, Myanmar, like the forces of the earth, has been at the top of the must-go-now list as a traveller before the state overruns.

On 16 December 2012 MTV EXIT has declared that it will hold the first major Open Aerial Concerts of an internationally acclaimed musician. Undoubtedly, the Algerian authorities are doing everything they can to promote the tourist industry. Myanmar Tourist Federation (MTF) has established an overseas department to expand the country's reach and increase tourist and corporate travel, The Myanmar Times states.

Myanmar's Civil Aviation Division also plans to improve Yangon Airport from its present total of 2. 7 million passengers a year to 3. 7 million in 2013 and 5 million in 2015, when the improvement will be implemented to accommodate the growth of the number of interna -tional travellers. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism launches its e-visa website on 1 April to allow users to obtain an online visitor ID within five working day.

"At the moment we are planning to make the e-visa available for the first time for persons in Southeast Asia - Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia - and then make it available to everyone," says Tin Nwe Wynt, Market Development Director at the Myanmar Market Committee. By then, visitors will have three formal ways to get the 28-day Myanmar travel-permit.

One is to go to the Myanmar Ambassador in a specific destination and submit your application before your itinerary. Guangzhou or Cambodia travellers arriving on Myanmar Airways usually receive a formal residence permit upon arriving at Yangon International Terminal. Certain agents require telegraphic transfer; other agents require transfer of the money to an agency that waits in the Yangon International Airport departures hall on your flight.

"Khin Than Win, Director of Tourism Promotion at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, says the Chinese authorities are trying to make it as pleasant as possible for them. "I' m not sure the administration will be able to keep the number of admissions. The Ministry of Hotel and Tourism registered a grand overall attendance of 391,176 in 2011.

By 2012, this number is set to increase to 500,000, and travellers in the tourism sector fear that the country's infrastructures will no longer be sufficient, especially in the top November to March season. Out of the 25,358 rooms in Yangon, 8,152 are distributed among the 193 Yangon guesthouses and B&B. The number of rooms in Yangon has risen to 25,358.

With 47,475 foreign guests entering the state in December 2011 alone, 43,800 of them in Yangon, the big issue is: Where does everyone go to school? "While we saw tourist arrive in Yangon without lodging, we had to see to it that they flew to Bagan or Mandalay, where rooms were available.

The new Centrepoint Hotel in Yangon is scheduled to open in 2013 and will be extended by 200 to 300 rooms, with a further four or five to be built over the next few years. And of course a full price structure for supplies and demands is fully effective, with travel agents claiming that their contractually agreed rates have been increased three, four and five notches.

"Burma is already 30 per cent more costly than Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam in hotel, inland, restaurant and so on," says Anne Cruickshanks, exotic travel Myanmar's flagship travel and adventures executive. Travellers overwhelmed by Myanmar's palm-fringed beach, green mountains, magnificent monuments and welcoming travellers are already a little uncomfortable.

"I was disappointed at my Summit Park View in Yangon," says Stephen Bures, an US businessman from Vietnam, about his October trip. The Myanmar Times reported that the Myanmar administration imposed a $150 ceiling on Myanmar's hotels on 25 June in reaction to over-pricing after it lobbied tour operators and feared that exploding rates would harm the sector's global reputation.

Although overseas ownership is adhering to it, the reports say that some local ownership still raised rates three to four fold over a year ago. On the ground there is the fear that an open e-visa system and a corresponding rise in the number of visitors could lead to an rise in unwanted forms of tourist travel with adverse effects on the local population, economy, cultural life and population.

"In the aftermath of Hurricane Nargis[2008], many catastrophic trafficked girls came to Yangon to find a career but were instead compelled into the sexual industry," says Aung Myo Min, managing director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma. "Young-lookin' for a better career has no clue about this side of the business and could get caught in a catch.

" "In 1996, the Bagan people idolized Bagan as an antique town, but instead of redecorating it, they drew it without regard for its conservation and threw the locals out in immediate breach of theirs. There is no long-term vision for the administration and not enough information about sustainable development in this area.

" To inform the tourist about Myanmar's cultural heritage, the NGO Tourist Transparency, which promotes an open and responsible tourist sector in Myanmar, has issued a caricature book entitled "Dos and Don'ts for tourists". Travellers can now fully enjoy the major sites such as Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Irrawaddy, but must request a visa for some of them. This usually lasts five to seven working day.

Others open and shut down regularly, and some areas are still taboo, allegedly because of conflict between armed and minority groups, but also because some are covered with poppies supposedly belonging to the army (Myanmar is said to be the world's second biggest source of opium). To keep up to date with the availability of Myanmar's many tourist attractions, the best way to do this is to contact a tourist agency or a local ambassador or go to the website of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

The operator say there are enough proper cars and riders in the main locations to keep the traffic for now, but they will probably be captured shortly in theut. Traveling aboard Myanmar's new, gleaming fleet can be tiring. "In the staffing sector, many new establishments have difficulties in recruiting skilled personnel and incumbent establishments may find it hard to maintain their staffing levels when large companies such as Oberoi, Marriott and Anantara - all allegedly looking for facilities in Yangon - come onto the scene in the oncoming years.

In 2011, the 15th edition of the event was represented by the number of most common foreigners. Out of 3,161 Myanmar's travel agents, only 125 are listed as native speakers of Mandarin. English speakers are relatively well provided for - 1,931 travel books are the native language of Myanmar's former colonies - but in the next few years other nations may have to make do with their travel books while tourist colleges are catching up.

However, travelling in Myanmar is still a fairly simple task, provided you book your rooms in time, allow short-term changes to your travel route and have unforeseen problems. Monies are entering, industries are evolving and the whole nation is filled with a noticeable feeling of confidence for the oncoming years.

"We have seen many indications that the hotel sector is recovering - the hotel sector has become better and a stars evaluation system has been implemented, touristic transport has been better and the level of services and touristic training has improved," says Khin Than Win. "And while the rest of the globe is preparing for Myanmar and the administration is trying to cope with the country's newly gained appeal, the land is still a border holiday resort, relatively unspoilt by tourists and with a seductive mystic and romanticism.

The majority of our guests find their experiences overpowering. "I think they are so kind and warm-hearted because it's been shut for so long, and there's just something untouched about the place. More than a decade of airlines currently operate flights to Myanmar from more than 15 Asian destinations. Myanmar is, as expected, behind its neighbours' telecom networks.

In Yangon, some local wireless carriers have a long range, but little to nothing inland. There is no possibility of being roamed, but guests can hire a $50 and $2 per night security at Yangon Int'lAiport. Whilst cash machines have become an everyday feature in the towns, they only offer direct banking services in Myanmar.

Travellers cannot make foreign withdrawal or payment by bank cards in Myanmar, so keep your money in the latest US currency, euros and Singapore Dollars for the entire journey. The Bank has a representation in Myanmar, as do 15 other foreign bankers from Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.

Recent accounts show that more global financial institutions are also considering opening an office in Myanmar and that Ayeyarwady Bank has already begun to install the use of WiFi payments to promote dialog with global financial institutions.

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