RANGOON — The Mon State government has approved the development of a hotel zone on an 8-mile stretch of the state’s pristine coastline, according to a state minister.
The project, which will be managed by domestic firm Aurun Co., will be implemented in three phases over the next two years in Kabyar Wa, just south of the capital Moulmein, according to Min Nwe Soe, the state’s minister for planning and economics.
“This area is still kept natural, not damaged by people, and it has beautiful coastal areas suitable to developing the tourism industry,” said Min Nwe Soe.
The project was officially approved in Sept. 2014, and phase one of infrastructural development will begin soon. Phases two and three are expected to be complete by the end of 2017, according to Aurun Co Ltd., which is best known as a mining firm.
Htay Thwin, managing director of the company, said that his firm expects to spend on US$12 million on infrastructure and a few small initial developments, and will partner with international companies to build about 100 bungalows, several 3 star hotels and restaurants, playgrounds, pools and other resort facilities.
He said the company carried out a survey from May to July, 2015, and presented it to the government.
“I realized that this beach was the most beautiful beach in Mon State,” said Htay Thwin. “After seeing my survey, the Mon government allowed me to implement the resort project there.”
He added that he is now having discussions with firms from Thailand, Singapore, Australia and Europe to partner on developments in the zone, which he said will prioritize job creation, support for local businesses, improving education and vocational training.
Htay Thwin said he also plans to establish a special zone devoted to marine and environmental research.
Kabyar Wa is known as one of Mon State’s most spectacular beaches, but the lack of transport and communications infrastructure has stifled its development as a tourist destination. A further obstacle to development has been the presence of government troops, as the area was designated as a “black zone” until recently, making it off limits to travelers. The state is home to an ethnic armed resistance group, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), which has long been at odds with the government, though a new ceasefire deal was reached in February 2012.
Mon State already has one well-known beach—Set Se in Thanbyuzayat Township—which has been somewhat commercially developed, but the government seeks to promote tourism elsewhere in the state as a means of development more broadly, said Min Nwe Soe.
In late 2014, the state government awarded another contract for the development of a museum, hotel, restaurant in Thanbyuzayat near the “death railway,” a World War II-era track connecting Rangoon with Bangkok, Thailand. It has been non-operational since the late 1940’s but parts of the route have become popular among tourists seeking historic sites.
The total number of visitors to Burma rose sharply after power was transferred from the military to a quasi-civilian government in 2011, surpassing 1 million for the first time in 2012 and reaching 3 million last year, according to government statistics. The tourism sector suffered under the years of military rule partly as a result of a tourism boycott designed to avoid funding the regime.
In early October 2014, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism announced that 2016 would be designated as “Visit Myanmar Year,” in an attempt to revamp the tourism sector amid chronic complaints of accommodation shortages and weak infrastructure for communications and transit. A similar campaign was launched in 1996.