Ngapali Beach Hotel Found to be Operating Without a License

By Moe Myint 8 February 2017

RANGOON – Regional minister for finance, revenue and economics in Arakan State U Kyaw Aye Thein has confirmed that the four-star Merciel Resort and Retreat hotel on Ngapali beach has been operating for several years without an official license.

The Merciel hotel is owned by a Rangoon-based businessman, U Nyo Min. According to local sources, the 42-room resort has been generating business in Ngapali for nearly four years.

The hotel’s senior staff told The Irrawaddy that, to their knowledge, they had not obtained a business permit from the tourism ministry despite reportedly applying last year. They declined to provide further information. Manager U Kyaw Kyaw Thwin and owner U Nyo Min could not be reached for comment concerning this article.

To obtain a permit from the tourism ministry, investors need to apply in line with Burma’s tourism law. This requires that they provide supporting documents from local administration and proof of an agreement reached with nearby residents, as well as recommendation letters from relevant township departments and the regional minister. The final approval is then made by the Union Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Naypyidaw.

According to the guidelines provided by the tourism ministry, fencing or walls that may block the sea views are not allowed. U Kyaw Aye Thein explained that although Merciel did not breach these regulations, the hotel’s fence does obstruct the sea view and has blocked villagers’ pathway to the coast.

“Some hotels have reached beyond the regulations and we have ordered them to demolish the walls,” the minister said.

Locals allegedly complained about the Merciel hotel to the state level minister for this reason, when the firm reportedly applied for a recommendation letter. Thandwe Township residents and the hotel owner are still negotiating to reach an agreement on the issue, U Kyaw Aye Thein said.

When The Irrawaddy asked the minister whether the state government would file legal charges against the Merciel hotel, he said that matters concerning hotel licensing must be determined at the Union level; states only handle legal issues surrounding smaller guesthouses.

In a phone interview on Wednesday with deputy director U Kaung Tun of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Naypyidaw, he said he had not received any complaints at the Union level concerning Merciel.

“If they complain with concrete evidence, we will take action,” he said.