YANGON, 11 August 2020: Khiri Travel Myanmar’s joint venture partner in Myanmar, Edwin Briels, has stepped down after nine years to form a new venture Exploration Travel Myanmar.
He was a joint venture partner and managing director of Khiri Travel Myanmar from 2011 until the end of July this year.
Since its opening nine years ago, Khiri Travel Myanmar operated as a joint venture between Briels, Aung Min Thein and Bangkok-based Khiri Travel Ltd. The company will now embark on “restructuring” but said it would continue to provide a full range of DMC services in the country.
Aung Min Thein a Myanmar citizen holding the majority stake in order to meet Myanmar’s strict rules on travel company ownership also stepped down as a joint venture partner in Khiri Travel Myanmar.
Briels, a “long-time sleeping partner” in Grasshopper Adventures Myanmar, took over the entire shares of that company last June and established a new company Exploration Travel Myanmar also at the same address as Grasshopper Adventures. It has specialised in customised cycle tours in Myanmar since 2016. He also owns Lalay Lodge at Ngapali beach resort. Aung Min Thien joins Briels in the setup of the two travel firms and the ownership of the lodge.
In a press statement, Khiri Travel Myanmar’s CEO, Herman Hoven, pledged that the company would ensure that any bookings tour operators and clients have with Khiri will be fulfilled, or postponed due to Covid without cost penalty, should this be needed.
“Khiri Travel Myanmar is very much open, ready and looking forward to once again delivering signature Myanmar experiences to travellers when international travel returns,” claimed Hoven.
Like all destination management companies in the region, it is probably more accurate to describe its status as hibernating while weathering the financial storm caused by Covid-19 lockdowns and flight bans.
Briels said that Covid-19 was the catalyst for the decision. “I want to continue telling unique stories of Myanmar and creating experiences with niche products such as Lalay Lodge and biking adventures and others,” he explained. “ I do see much potential for biking in Myanmar and hope to get also domestic Myanmar tourists to enjoy biking as a way of sightseeing.”
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Khiri Travel Myanmar had more than 30 staff and handled around 3000 visitors in 2019.
Last week the company informed its B2B travel partners in Europe, Asia and North America of Briel and Aung Min Thien’s exit from the joint venture and shared some information on the planned restructuring.
Hoven said he was open to queries via an email address, but so far he has not responded to TTR Weekly’s request for more information on the nature of the company’s restructuring.
Hoven responded following the posting of this report. He said: “Like in our other destinations, Khiri Travel Myanmar was already reducing staff numbers due to effects of the Covid-19 situation.
“We’re not hibernating though as you state (in the report). Our offices are open and we’re working with office teams in each our countries to serve agents for cancellations and re-bookings.”