NAYPYIDAW — Hoteliers expected guests in Burma’s capital for this weekend’s Asean Summit to occupy more than 3,000 rooms. Early signs are, however, that fewer people will actually show up, and hotels will be left with empty rooms.
Ahead of Burma’s 2014 chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, some worried that infrastructure may not be in place to provide accommodation for the delegates, observers and journalists attending the regional bloc’s many meetings. Burma’s former capital, Rangoon, has a chronic shortage of rooms, and hotel building has been slow to keep up with the soaring pace of tourist and business visitor numbers.
But hotels have shot up in Naypyidaw, the new administrative center built by the former military regime that is mostly deserted most of the time. According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, there are now 52 hotels open in the city.
On Saturday and Sunday, leaders and foreign ministers of the 10 Asean nations, and more than 400 journalists, are expected to converge on Naypyidaw’s specially constructed Myanmar International Convention Center 1.
Kyawt Kyawt, assistant front office manager of Royal Kumudra hotel, which is run by Burmese tycoon Zaw Zaw’s Max Myanmar Group of Companies, said the guests would be spread out of over the city’s many hotels.
“International delegates are staying in Hotel Zone 3, close to the National Guest House [and to the Asean Summit venue]. In this zone, number 1, only journalists and other regular business guests stay,” she said.
“Even though we expected that there will be many international guests coming here during the summit and that rooms would be in short supply, that hasn’t really happened. There are more rooms than the number of guests now.”
Hotel room rates in the capital, which has only three-star hotels with on average between 80 and 100 rooms, start from US$30 for a double room, for local guests. In Hotel Zone 3, rooms cost at least $100 per night.
Kyaw Zin Oo, deputy manager of Taw Win Naypyidaw Hotel, also said there were not as many guests as expected this week. The hotel would be only about 60 percent full for the summit, he said.
“Rooms are free even at this time. We have experienced that there were many rooms free even during SEA Games [in December], that’s why we don’t think it will rooms be in shortage for the summit,” said Kyaw Zin Oo.
But more hotels are being built in the city, raising the possibility of a long-term glut of rooms.
“Now there are more than 50 hotels running. When the hotels under construction open, there will be about 70 hotels here,” he said.