NAY PYI TAW, 31 March 2015: Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism says it is studying ways to boost tourism to Nay Pyi Taw, the country’s capital city.
Eleven Myanmar media reported, Monday, that the ministry plans to create city tours that will include a visit to the Lower House of Parliament and will also launch a website for the capital city to highlight its tour potential.
The ministry has been working with Air KBZ to run Nay Pyi Taw-Mandalay flights starting this April. It will also plan sports events and encourage events to move their venue to Nay Pyi Taw to take advantage of cheap hotel accommodation and a congestion-free airport.
Nay Pyi Taw will be positioned as a MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) destination, based on recommendations by the private sector at meetings with the government earlier this year.
But it does have two massive convention centres, and plans are in place to build an exhibition centre.
Hotels and Tourism Minister, Htay Aung, was quoted as saying the basic infrastructure, such as an international airport and hotels are in place.
The lack of trained staff is another issued, but the ministry says it will conduct international-level hospitality and tourism courses in cooperation with the Myanmar Tourism Federation and Hilton Hotels.
A hospitality exhibition and conference and an international ecotourism conferences will be held in Nay Pyi Taw over the next two months.
The ministry claims the country could attract as many as 5 million tourists this year up from 3 million in 2014. The target is very ambitious as Yangon’s hotels are overpriced with no spare capacity to accommodate more visitors and the airport is congested with long queues at check-in and immigration counters. It takes travellers more than one hour to clear immigration in Yangon.
The government tells hotel companies that if they want to develop hotels in Yangon or Mandalay they must build a hotel in Nay Pyi Taw, but occupancy in the political capital are as low as 20% with a room rate of around USD30. Ministry officials deny there is pressure on hotel companies to have a presence in Nay Pyi Taw, which contradicts what hotel investors and hotel management companies explain to TTR Weekly.