Ministry to Restrict New Hotels

By May Soe San 22 September 2016

RANGOON – The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism will impose restrictions on new hotel projects in several major tourist spots including Rangoon.

The ministry has started negotiations with divisional and state governments in order to restrict new hotel projects in Rangoon and Mandalay as well as Taunggyi, Inle, Kalaw and Yawnghwe in Shan State, said Deputy Director General of the ministry U Hlaing Oo.

“We have asked divisional and state governments to restrict future hotel projects in certain places with many hotels,” said U Hlaing Oo. “High-rise hotels are being constructed in places like Inle Lake. While we can do nothing about existing projects, we ask governments to seriously consider new projects,” said U Hlaing Oo.

New hotels in those areas are unnecessary as occupancy rates in existing hotels are low, Hotels and Tourism minister U Ohn Maung said in a press conference on Tuesday in Rangoon.

“We have made this decision through discussions with experts who have a lot of experience in the industry. At present, there are around five hotels that have more than seven stories in Yawnghwe. Those buildings do not complement the countryside,” said U Ohn Maung.

Since they came into power in 2012, Burma’s previous government was liberal with permission for new hotel projects. As a result, the number of hotels exceeds the number of visitors coming into the country, which calls for a restriction of new hotel projects in the future.

Minister U Ohn Maung also warned potential investors in the hotel industry not to be deceived by official tourist figures as foreign visitor numbers include those entering the country on other visas and for other reasons.

“Next year, we will release the tourist figures in different groups,” he said, promising to give more accurate tourist figures.

“If people are convinced to invest in hotels based on those numbers, they are looking for trouble. Only banks will benefit from lending money to them,” he added.

According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, there have been 48 hotel projects with foreign investment amounting to over 9,000 rooms in Burma. Of the 48 projects, 34 are already in operation, 11 are under construction and three have not yet been started.

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has approved a total of 17 hotel projects since April: Seven in Rangoon, one in Ngwe Saung Beach in Irrawaddy Division, two in Mon State’s Moulmein, one in Arakan State’s Gwa, one in Shan State’s Kalaw, one in Chin State, and two in Karen State. Another five proposals are still being assessed, according to U Ohn Maung.

Ministry statistics said there are 1,373 registered hotels with 53,783 rooms in Burma—346 hotels with 16,783 rooms in Rangoon, 184 rooms with 7,416 rooms in Mandalay, 88 hotels with 2,729 rooms in Inle, 32 hotels with 888 rooms in Taunggyi, and 38 hotels with 814 rooms in Kalaw.

The occupancy rate of these hotels from April to July is 52 percent in Rangoon, 54 percent in Mandalay, 28 in Inle, 47 percent in Taunggyi, and 40 percent in Kalaw.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko