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Colliers Property Report – Upper Scale Hotel Yangon Q2 2019

 

LAYING THE WAGER ON THE GAMBLING LAW: OPPORTUNITIES IN GAMING INDUSTRY

 

Summary & Recommendations

No new completion were observed in Yangon’s upscale hotel segment during Q2 2019. Despite the surge of Chinese visitors, majority of upscale hotels continue to experience lower occupancy rates due to the downward trending number of western arrivals. Although market remains underwhelming, the legalization of the Gambling Law may perhaps bode well for the industry in the long run. In fact, the new law is also expected to have significant impact on tourism. However, more has to be done in bolstering the

country’s overall tourism offerings such as branding and identity as well as infrastructure, amenities and facilities. Overall this should help streamline with the existing hotel and visitor landscape, and will eventually reinforce the success of multi- faceted hotel and gaming destinations.

GAMING INDUSTRY INDICATES PROMISING GROWTH PROSPECTS

Until the start of 2019, Myanmar was one of the last two South East Asian countries without the legalized casino industry. Following the enactment of the Gambling Law on May 7, investors are now allowed to legally operate casino business. Colliers sees the impact of this new law to be a major appeal for tourists and investors alike. Despite the official ban on casinos in the past, some already operate in border areas such as Myawaddy of Kayin State, Mong La of Shan State and Tha Htay Island of Taninthayi Region. Casinos in these areas entice a significant number of Chinese and Thai tourists as well as contribute to the development of local economy including the hotel sector.

Notwithstanding the nascent gambling law, Myanmar is no stranger to the gambling culture. With a long history of horse racing and betting in Kyaikkasan Race Course, Yangon itself was home to the colonial era Rangoon Turf Club that dates back to the 1920s. Nowadays, coin operated gambling arcades can also be found in major shopping malls and department stores across Yangon. Considering these traditions alongside the eventual full implementation of Gambling Law, this industry is likely to see a thriving business moving forward. While the law is yet to specify the necessary provisions such as capital requirements and foreign investment ratio, we advise hoteliers and developers to start exploring opportunities especially in creating entertainment destinations. Holistic approaches such as gaming and accommodation establishments reinforced with ancillary and recreational facilities and activities should be one of the key success factors.

According to Morgan Stanley, casinos in South East Asia grew faster than that of Macau in 2018 due to improved quality and lower tax rates. To take advantage of the regional growth tide and nurture the newly permitted sector, Myanmar should learn from and eventually adopt successful practices in neighboring countries such as Singapore,

Philippines and Cambodia. Perhaps, Myanmar can trail these countries’ development growth which embarked with the government ensuring proper policies and infrastructure. This starts with catering to the needs of casino-goers and tourists before scaling it up with high-end offerings on hotel and retail that will eventually attract wealthy tourists going forward.

DEVELOPERS ADVISED TO STREAMLINE THEIR PRODUCTS

In the meantime, the total number of hotel rooms in Yangon as of Q2 2019 remained at more than 5,300 keys. Despite the historic rise of Chinese tourists, the citywide average occupancy rate corrected downwards to 40%. We have seen limited construction progress in some projects that were anticipated to be completed during Q2 2019, further pushing their completion to Q3 2019. Scheduled to open in the remainder of the year are Rosewood by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts in Downtown and Sheraton Yangon Hotel by Family Business Group in Inner City Area. We expect the total number of rooms to reach more than 5,700 at the end of the year.

In April, Osaka-based Super Hotel chain opened its second project, Super Hotel Myanmar in Thilawa Special Economic Zone (Thilawa SEZ). Being the first hotel of its kind in Thanlyin township, this 129-bedroom hotel with mostly single beds will serve travellers engaged mainly in the SEZ. Investments in mid-tier hotels geared towards business travellers are seen to be more sustainable ventures in Yangon going forward. Given that most upcoming projects are in the luxury segment, Colliers encourages investors to veer towards the untapped mid-scale category. In addition to defining the right hotel design and features, appointing suitable international operators will also enhance the marketability of hotel developments.

INFLUX OF ASIAN VISITORS TO REMAIN STRONG GOING FORWARD

The easing in visa requirements for three East Asian countries – China, South Korea and Japan – has proven to be successful in the last two quarters. Recent Q2 2019 figures from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism indicate that the arrivals from these countries grew by 140%, 84% and 24% yoy respectively. We are optimistic that foreign tourist arrival levels will continue to rise given the sustained interest especially from the Chinese and Koreans as well as the increasing arrivals from European countries such as Italy, Spain and Austria. (Refer to Figure 2: Notable Arrival Growth Rate by Country of Origin)

Despite the substantial 25% yoy reduction of ADR from USD113 to USD85 in Q2 2019, the occupancy rate did not show any signs of improvement. The entry of more modern hotels will exert further downward pressure on daily rates for older upscale developments.

These adjustments in ADR are likely to continue as more supply comes online in the next two years.

In August 2019, the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) announced that casino operators from Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been actively seeking opportunities in Yangon and the border areas following the enactment of the Gambling Law. According to DICA, operators are considering to set up either as standalone gaming houses or casino hotel developments. Being neighbors to both China and Thailand and the blanket ban on gambling in the latter can be favorable conditions bestowing Myanmar gaming industry’s significant growth potential. As this liberalisation coincides with the upsurge of Asian tourists, future Chinese and Thai visitors are likely to be enticed.

In collaboration with local as well as international investors, the government should focus first in strengthening infrastructure and policies to improve overall tourism activities, and perhaps eventually develop Myanmar’s potential to become a hotel and gaming destination in the long run. Once the infrastructure is in place, creating an enabling environment that promotes recreational activities should also be a major draw for travelers and casino-goers alike.

While the law remains at a nascent stage, Colliers advises developers to start exploring opportunities with emphasis on the entertainment offerings. The current underwhelming performance of the upscale hotel industry may be buoyed by integrating these entertainment and gaming facilities alongside other amenities such as themed indoor parks, concept stores, contemporaneous F&B options , super clubs, health and wellness activities among others. The overall proposition is to offer a play-stay-dine-enjoy concept.

Primary Authors:

Hpone Myint Thu
Assistant Manager | Research | Myanmar
+95 (0) 9 425 006 777
hponemyint.thu@colliers.com

 

CONTRIBUTORS

Ye Htun Htet Paing
Senior Researcher | Research & Advisory | Myanmar
+95 (0) 9 505 9431
william.linn@colliers.com

 

Source: Collier

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