Myanmar hotel prices ‘need to be more competitive’

TOURISM operators in Myanmar have been urged to focus on more competitive prices and reforming products

At a seminar entitled “Myanmar Tourism Outlook 2016”, Thet Lwin Toh, chairman of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association and the boss of Myanmar Voyages International Tourism Co, said that hotel, airfare and package tour fees must be competitive.

Tin Tun Aung, managing director of Thingazar Travels and Tours, noted that room rates were 50-70 per cent higher than other countries in Asean despite an overall lower room quality in Myanmar.

“We need to train all kinds of staff in the industry and increase their capacity to be world class. This will be the biggest challenge for the tourism industry in 2016.”

He said opportunities were high as 4.5 million visitors arrived in the country last year, although the number was low compared to Thailand (30 million), Vietnam (nine million) and Cambodia (seven million). Laos recorded about 5 million visitors.

Operators must strive to meet international standards and adopt e-commerce, if they were to attract new and repeat visitors, he said.

Tin Tun Aung of Thingazar Travels stressed the need to focus on attracting both new and repeat visitors by improving interfaced industries and through the use of e-commerce.

Some 80 per cent of visitors to Myanmar last year were first-timers, said Hugo Schleicher, managing director of Jovago Myanmar, an online hotel booking service founded by Asia Pacific Internet Group.

He also complained about room rates, which he said were high due to high demand against low supply. With new hotels being constructed, he expected more competitive prices.

He was optimistic about the outlook for the industry, as more investment is expected and this would attract more visitors. He was confident that Myanmar could catch up with Thailand in the next few years and become a world tourism leader, thanks largely to a variety of breathtaking landscapes and friendly people.

“First, Myanmar needs to increase construction work. You need to build more hotels while maintaining your cultural heritage,” he said.

“Most Myanmar people cannot afford to stay at hotels. So you need to make hotel prices competitive. You also need to address the issue of traffic in Yangon, as it is very bad. You also need to upgrade roads, because it takes a long time to go from one place to another.”

There have also been calls for a greater focus on four major destinations – Bagan, Inle, Yangon, and Ngapali, while it was thought Hpa-an, Dawei, Myeik, Mawlamyaing, Putao, and Chin State could be attractive “new” destinations.

On service quality, UMTA’s Thet Lwin Toh said that Myanmar had opened bachelor degree courses on tourism to build capacity in the industry. He urged the government to focus on safety issues and improving people’s living standards. He warned of sexual abuse and potential child-sex issues, given the rise in tourist arrivals.

He also underscored the importance of conservation and preservation of cultural heritage. The Culture Ministry needed to protect Bagan temples from pollution and destruction. He said having reinforcement structures in place was better than banning climbing to the temples, as most tourists enjoy watching sunsets atop famous Bagan temples such as the Shwe San Daw and the Pya That Gyi.

Myanmar has some 2,000 travel companies and over 1,400 registered hotels with about 50,000 rooms.

“Policies need to be stable,” Thet Lwin Toh said. “And we need more promotions at international events.

“More importantly, we need more direct flights between Yangon and big cities around the world with competitive pricing.” He also wants more domestic flights.

 

Source: The Nation

 

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