Myanmar’s hotel and tourism sector has received $1.92 billion in foreign investments in the current 2013-14 fiscal year, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism said.
A total of 39 projects were allowed by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) in the sector, while Singapore led the investors’ pack by investing more than $880 million, more than 40 percent of the total, in the recently-opened Southeast Asian country’s hotel and tourism industry that is grappling with surging demand for accommodation from tourists and investors alike.
Thailand stands second with $235 million, while Japan and Hong Kong stands third and fourth with $183 million and $150 million in investments.
There has been increasing interest from international investors, especially from Asia and Europe, to invest in Myanmar’s hotel and tourism industry, which has seen explosive growth over the last two years and braces itself for more in the near future.
According to the MIC, it has allowed more investment in the hotel sector this month.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism predicts the figure of tourist arrivals this year in the country to hit 3 million – the figure was less than 500,000 in 2011.
The number of tourist arrivals is expected to rise this year as many foreign visitors are to visit Myanmar to attend ASEAN summits to be hosted by Myanmar during its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2014.
Last year, Myanmar attracted over 2 million tourists, of whom 1.14 million entered through border gates and 885,476 through airports, with Thai and Chinese tourists leading the way.
Popular tourist destinations like Ngaplai beach in Rakhine state, Bagan in Mandalay region, Myeik and Dawei in Tanintharyi region are seeing a boom in hotel construction – carried out by both foreign and local firms.
In a bid to boost its tourism industry, Myanmar opened four entry and exit gates on the Myanmar-Thai border in August last year, which include Tachileik-Maesai, Myawaddy-Maesot, Tiki- Sunarong and Kawthoung-Ranong.
As of December 2013, Myanmar has 923 hotels, offering around 34,834 rooms, while last year it had 787, according to the ministry.
Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw now has 50 hotels with 8,020 rooms, Yangon 232 hotels with 10,175, Mandalay 104 with 4,439 rooms, Bagan 77 with 2,386 rooms, and Taunggyi and Inle Lake has 70 hotels with 1,939 rooms.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has granted operation licence to a total of 1,350 tourism companies including one foreign company, 25 joint ventures and 1,324 local companies.
It has also issued 196 tourism-related transport licences and 3, 667 tour guide licences.
To meet the growing demand for hotels, the ministry has approved the establishment of 11 more hotel zones in three regions – Yangon, Mandalay and Taninthayi – in the country.
Visa-on-arrival for visitors from 48 countries and regions were also offered to facilitate their travel to the country.
In the wake of dramatic increase in tourist arrivals, Myanmar has also planned to introduce travel insurance services. However, the number of applicants is still low.