NAY PYI TAW, 30 January 2015: When the ASEAN Tourism Forum closed, Thursday evening, the shutters also lowered on the capital’s 60 hotels.
It is virtually ground zero from here on after two years of getting by on revenue earned mainly from government-led events and ASEAN related conferences during Myanmar’s chairmanship that ended this month.
Commenting on the capital’s prospects in tourism, Myanmar Tourism Federation vice chairman, Maung Maung Swe told TTR Weekly the situation was critical for hotels.
“We will present recommendations to the government on ways to boost arrivals to the capital and support the hotel industry,” the vice president said.
The city’s hoteliers and tourism stake holders attended a panel discussion, earlier today, organised by the Myanmar Tourism Federation to line up proposals that will be presented to the government.
“The challenge is to provide a business pipeline for the hotels here… it is critical and we have to start with aviation first… without a change there, hotels will not survive.”
According to the federation’s vice chairman the private sector federation will ask the government to give airlines major price incentives to land at Nay Pyi Taw.
“We have to start at the airport, offer free, or very cheap landing rights, concessions on fuel and other incentives to draw airlines for at least a year after they introduce a new flight.”
Just two airlines fly to the capital; Bangkok Airways five times a week from Bangkok and China Eastern offering a twice weekly service from Kunming. In 2014 Bangkok Airways carried 11,054 passengers to Nay Pyi Taw and China Eastern 2,744. Five domestic airlines serve the capital, a flight distance of 316 km from Yangon.
The airport has a capacity to handle up to 5 million passengers a year, or 64,000 flights.
“There is no point taking about hotels making incentives, or travel agents developing new itineraries until the government puts incentives in place for airlines,” he said.
Office rental discounts are also on the table and tax incentives are options that are under consideration.
The federation will recommend that Nay Pyi Taw be declared a duty-free zone to boost visits and encourage developers to build more shopping malls. Another recommendation calls for free airport to hotel transfers.
Hotels would need to offer promotions probably “pay for one get two nights, or discounts that would offer a three to four-star room for around USD50 a night.
“Some progress has been made,” the vice chairman noted. “Civil Aviation is capping flights in Yangon… telling airlines they cannot add more services… or if they do they have to offer a link to the capital as part of the package.”
The caps on flights impacts on airlines that already serve Yangon, but airlines planning to serve Yangon will be asked what are their plans to offer a service to Nay Pyi Taw.
Hotels rates in Yangon range from USD100 to USD300 a night, up from USD40 just three years ago. In Nay Pyi Taw, rates are USD35 to USD80, depending on the hotel category.
Commenting on today’s panel discussion federation chairman Dr Aung Myat Kyaw told TTR Weekly the main recommendations focused on developing the capital into a MICE destinations.
“That is the most likely focus,” he said. “The city already has two convention centres and there are now firm plans to build an exhibition hall complex.”
He said the substantial hotel room capacity across all star ratings would give MICE visitors rate options from three to five-star between USD35 to USD85.
Tour buses could take MICE visitors to Mandalay in two and half hours and Bagan in three hours. The transfer time between Yangon and the capital is five hours by private tour bus.