Myanmar to open southern islands

YANGON, 13 May 2015: Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism says 26 local companies and joint ventures are awaiting government approval for new hotel projects in the country’s Mergui Archipelago.

Some have already gained the greenlight to move forward to the design stage or construction.

Irrawaddy media reported Myanmar Investment Commission is currently vetting 20 local firms and six joint ventures that are planning to build resorts on the archipelago’s largely unspoiled islands.

Infrastructure on the islands is thin and in most cases the plans call for a single hotel on each island.
Two other joint ventures with foreign partners, Moe Kant & Kyaw Win Phyo and United Resorts, have already been granted approval to build on the islands of Kyun Phila and Ngakhin Nyogyi.

Ministry of Hotels and Tourism general director, Aung Zaw Win, told Irrawaddy media: “Many companies have applied to set up hotels in the Myeik [Mergui] islands since 2011, when the new government took office.”

“Our ministry has recommended that these companies be given approval from the MIC through the Tanintharyi [Tenasserim] Division government. We have checked their environmental protection plans. MIC is now checking them again before final approval is given.”

The Mergui Archipelago spans 800 islands across an area of 10,000 square miles in Myanmar’s far south.
Currently it is an expensive undertaking to visit Myeik Archipelago, but it is tipped as Myanmar’s next tourist destination that will allow it to offer beach resorts of a similar quality to neighbouring Thailand, but still commercially unspoilt.

The archipelago is listed as a priority area for development under a tourism master plan released by the government in 2013. If successful it is likely to draw ecotourists, divers and holiday-goers, who currently visit resorts in southern Thailand.

But the infrastructure (water, electricity, sewage treatment) on the islands, local transport and access are very poor. It could take a decade to develop them to a point they can compete with Thailand’s southern resorts. The challenge is to ensure they also remain eco-friendly and limit tourism-related polution.

According to figures from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, there are 1,150 hotels in Myanmar as of 31 March this year and most of them are concentrated in Yangon (298 hotels) and Mandalay (148 hotels).

Source: TTR Weekly

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