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MMRD BULLETIN
September 18, 2020

NEWS
HOTEL & TOURISM

Bank to provide tourism-association members no-collateral loans

Image result for tourism in myanmarMyanma Tourism Bank (MTB) has announced that it will begin providing Union of Myanmar Travel Association members, who are primarily travel and tour companies, uncollateralised SMEs loans beginning this month. Loans will be released within two weeks to a month  if the applicants have provided the necessary documents for their application.

While the loans are being initially offered to UMTA members, MTB will later on open them up to other tourism-sector businesses. The interest rate for the uncollateralised loans is set at 13 percent a year and applicants are also required to take up credit guarantee insurance (CGI) from Myanmar Insurance. The maximum amount for the loans is set at K20 million for applicants who show viable plan for the use of the funds.

According to Ministry of Hotels and Tourism statistics, there are roughly more than 2500 travel and tour companies in the country, but the majority are categorised as small and medium-sized enterprises. Meanwhile, UMTA has around 1000 members. MTB was one of five sector-specific banks granted a banking licence by the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) in 2017.

Source: Myanmar Times 

Marriott International signs agreement with Yoma Land

The Landmark Yangon Myanmar mixed use developmentMarriott International Inc has announced the signing of a landmark agreement with Myanmar’s leading property developer, Yoma Land, to bring the Westin brand to Myanmar in late 2021, according to a statement. Currently, Westin has more than 220 hotels in nearly 40 countries and territories. Westin Hotels & Resorts is widely renowned as hospitality’s global leader in wellness for more than a decade.

Under the agreement, the new-build Westin Yangon will feature 281 rooms and suites alongside 90 premium serviced apartments with spectacular views overlooking downtown Yangon and the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda. The 26-story hotel is being planned as a part of the Yoma Central integrated real estate development which has been designed by acclaimed architect Cecil Balmond OBE.

Upon completion in 2021, Yoma Central expects to be anchored by the restored former headquarters of the Burma Railway Company, one of Yangon’s oldest and most cherished colonial-era buildings. Yoma Central plans to also feature two Grade A office towers and a collection of luxury private homes, all of which will be connected seamlessly by a retail podium.

Source: Mizzima

Myanmar lowest among ASEAN countries in passport index

Image result for latest Henley Passport IndexMyanmar ranks 95th out of 107, the lowest among ASEAN nations, in the latest Henley Passport Index, mainly due to a lack of economic freedom. The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association and scored based on visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to other countries.

Japan and Singapore hold first place on the index, with a score of 190 out of a maximum 227. Finland, Germany, and South Korea remain in 2nd place, while Denmark, Italy, and Luxembourg are placed third. Among ASEAN countries Malaysia is ranked 12th place with a score of 177 and followed by Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Myanmar, in 95th place globally, remains the poorest performer in the region. In 2014, Myanmar’s rank was 86 with visa-free access to 42 countries. Although official scores for 10 years ago are not available for Myanmar, it is estimated that the country had visa-free access to around 30 countries only. Myanmar now enjoys visa-free access to 46 countries.

Utilising historic data from the Henley Passport Index and the Index of Economic Freedom, political science researchers discovered a strongly positive correlation between visa freedom and a variety of indicators of economic freedom, including FDI inflows, property rights, tax burden, and investment freedom. For most of the index’s 14-year history, a European country or the US has been ranked at the top but this shifted dramatically in 2018, with Asian nations climbing up in the ranking.

Source: Myanmar Times 

 

Italians invest US$3.2million in Kawthoung hotel

Image result for Kawthaung MyanmarAn Italian company has been granted permission to develop a hotel project worth US$3.2million in Tanintharyi Region’s Kawthoung district, according to DICA. The move will be carried out under a joint venture – Myanmar Green Century – with a local company. The hotel will be built across 6.8 hectares of land on Kyun Mei Gyi island in Bokepyin township in Kawthoung.

Kawthoung, which was known in the past as Victoria Point, is Myanmar’s southernmost town. Kawthoung is also the starting point for all Myanmar-based cruises and day trips to the Myeik Archipelago, which is a popular diving destination and sees more than 300,000 tourists per year, mostly from neighbouring Thailand. The islands most popular with tourists are Nacleod Island (Jhayin Khwa Island), Tha Ye Island, Cock Comb Island, Lampi Island, Nyaung Oo Phee Island, Hlaing Gu Island, Done Waterfall and Bo Cho Island, according to tourism entrepreneurs.

Currently, there are more than 10 travel agencies running in Kawthoung district and about nine hotels with a total of 500 rooms permitted. In addition, some 9690 travellers from Italy visited Myanmar during the seven months between January and July, up 22 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Source: Myanmar Times 

Over 25,000 tourists entered Myanmar via Tachilek in week ended 22 Aug

Image result for myanmar tachileikMyanmar welcomed 25,676 tourists through the Tachilek border gate between 16 August and 22 August, with most visitors entering the country from Thailand, according to official data.

Tourists making a day trip from Tachilek visited the Tarlaw market, Bayintnaung statue, Maha Myat Muni Pagoda, Wankaung market, Koemyoshin spirit house, replica of Shwedagon Pagoda, Padaung village, Myanmar monasteries, and Chinese temples. Additionally, some visitors flew on the Heho-Yangon-Mandalay-Lashio route.

Between 1 January and 22 August, 745,064 foreigners entered Myanmar through the Tachilek border gate, and 41,824 visitors enjoyed visa-free entry, according to the Immigration Department. Myanmar’s natural beauty, tourist attractions, culture and lifestyles of ethnic people have drawn tourist interest, who have been entering the country through the border gates and international airports.

Source: Global New Light of Myanmar 

FlyDubai Is Now Flying Direct to Krabi and Myanmar

Image result for krabiFlyDubai will be adding two new destinations to its network – Krabi Thailand and Yangon Myanmar, meaning cheaper flights. Starting from December 10, the budget airline will operate on a codeshare with Emirates with a daily flight to and from Krabi with a stopover at Yangon. Economy fares to Yangon start from Dh2000 and to Krabi from Dh2700 with business class seats starting from Dh7000.

The flights will depart from Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 at 10:30AM, reaching Yangon at 6:40PM and then continuing to Krabi at 7:30PM, reaching the island of Krabi at the local time of 10PM. The return flights will leave Krabi at 11PM with the landing in Dubai at the early hours of 5:30AM.

Acting as the gateway to the Thailand Andaman Islands, the town of Krabi is a bustling little city with impressive beaches and amazing luxury hotels, restaurants and adventure entertainment options. The largest city and capital of Myanmar, Yangon has a blend of colonial and modern skyline architecture combined with traditional pagodas.

Source: AHLAN

Bangkok Airways expresses interest in opening routes to Bagan

Related imageBangkok Airways, a Thai regional airline, is interested in opening a direct route between Bangkok and Bagan, which has just been accorded the World Heritage Site status by UNESCO. Bagan, an ancient site of Buddhist temples, monasteries and fortifications in Mandalay Region, already popular with tourists, could see more interest now that it has finally been endorsed by UNESCO.

Other destinations the airline would like to open direct routes to include Heho in Shan State and Myeik in Tanintharyi Region as part of plans to expand operations to Myanmar’s tourist destinations. The airline currently operates direct flights to Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay from Bangkok. It also operates flights between Chiangmai and Yangon as well as Chiangmai and Mandalay.

Currently, Myanmar has three international airports, Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw. It plans to upgrade 14 out of the 31 other domestic airports with customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) facilities as well as aprons, or tarmacs, which can handle bigger aircraft. Foreign visitors wanting to get to destinations such as Heho, Bagan and Myeik must first fly into one of the international airports before taking connecting flights to these locations. Of the 14 domestic airports slated for the upgrades, three – Kawthoung, Heho and Mawlamyine – would undergo the CIQ upgrades starting this year under private-public partnership agreements.

Source: Myanmar Times 

43rd Session of World Heritage Committee designates Bagan as World Heritage Site

Related imageThe 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee, held from June 10th to 30th in Baku, Azerbaijan, designated Bagan as a World Heritage Site. Present at the event were representative teams comprised of officials from the ministries of Religious Affair and Culture, Education, Natural Resource and Environmental Conservation and Foreign Affairs. The team was led by Myanmar Ambassador to UNESCO U Kyaw Zeya.

Earlier, the 38th session of the World Heritage committee was held in Doha, Qatar, and designated three ancient Pyu cities: Han Lin, Beikthano (Vishnu) and Sri Ksetra, as World Heritage Sites, while Bagan was the second site to be designated in Myanmar.

The application processes, including courses, workshops, management meetings, thesis related meetings, collecting GIS and research data, were conducted since 2014. The application to the Committee states that Bagan is a living heritage meeting with the world’s cultural values. It also included the significance of Bagan, including its customs, philosophy, faith, art and literature, which is recognized as meeting world standards.

Source: Global New Light of Myanmar 

Tourism Ministry Orders Industry Dedollarization

Related imageFor the second time, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MOHT) has ordered business owners in the Myanmar tourism industry to stop collecting payments in the form of U.S. dollars. If companies want to continue accepting U.S. dollars, they must apply to become an authorized dealer (AD) with a money changing license from the Central Bank. The move is part of a Central Bank plan to de-dollarize the Myanmar economy, and it ordered the entire industry to follow the procedure under the authority of Myanmar’s Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, which prohibits conducting business in or exchanging foreign currencies without Controller-granted permission or AD status.

The prohibition was the brainchild of the previous U Thein Sein administration, first proposed in 2014 but still in pending status until May 2019. Daw Sabei Aung, owner of tour company Nature Dream, questioned the ministry’s policy on her Facebook page. The tour industry in Myanmar includes more than 3,000 travel and tour agencies and over 1,600 hotels across the country, she said. If the order is mandatory, it will create nearly 5,000 money changer license holders over night. AD and money changing licensing, registration and deposit fees are too high for small-scale travel agencies, she said. If many thousands of travel companies in the country are suddenly granted licenses, she predicted it would only inflate the dollar exchange rate.

Further, she said, the industry’s ability to fully comply will depend on how effectively the government can force large hotels and airlines to comply with the CBM-set exchange rates. Daw Sabei Aung said if the government is serious about dedollarization they should also consider introducing an official transaction fee in order to decrease hundi money transfers, which illegally transfer millions of dollars annually from migrant workers abroad.

Source: The Irrawaddy

Air KBZ to resume Myeik, Sittwe flights

Image result for air kbzAir KBZ will resume flights to Myeik and Sittwe from May 1 onwards.

The airline had suspended flights to Myeik for three years and to Sittwe for one. It will now resume flights on these routes on the back of higher demand.

Domestic tour operators confirmed that the number of local visitors to Mergui Archipelago and Rakhine has increased over the recent summer vacation months.

“Of late, demand for flights to these two destinations has increased. There are a lot more local and foreign tourists wanting to visit the Myeik islands in particular so we have reopened flights to meet market demand,” a spokesperson from Air KBZ said.

Flights to Myeik from Yangon will run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and on weekends, while flights to Sittwe from Yangon will run daily, the airline said.

To leverage on higher demand over the summer months from March to May, Air KBZ last month also announced discounted fares of up to 20 percent for local travelers to Heho, Nyaung-U, Myitkyina, Loikaw, Nay Pyi Taw and Dawei, and Nyaung-U based flights to Heho, Mandalay, Thandwe, Dawei and Kawthaung.

During the rainy season, some airlines also operate flights in partnership with others to draw more passengers and air ticket prices are sometimes also reduced to encourage air travel.

Source: Myanmar Times

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Thae Oo Myintzu
MMRD Insight—Editor
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