Russian Business Chiefs Sign Tourist Deals for Myanmar Beach Resort

By The Irrawaddy 6 February 2023

The Russia-Myanmar Friendship Association and business owners in Myanmar signed deals for the Ngapali beach resort in Rakhine State on Saturday.

The association president Anatoly Bulochnikov met junta boss Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw on January 30 to reportedly discuss tourism and trade with Myanmar’s largest arms supplier.

When the regime reshuffled its governing body, the State Administration Council, following its six-month extension of emergency rule last week, Min Aung Hlaing’s classmate from the Defense Services Academy, retired Major General Aung Thaw, was appointed as the hotels and tourism minister. He also chairs Myanmar’s branch of the friendship association.

A luxury seafront apartment project in Ngapali, one of the deals signed on Saturday, is expected to get off the ground soon as Aung Myo Min Din, a hotelier with close ties to Min Aung Hlaing’s family, is already running a hotel there. His business, Amazing Hotels and Resorts Group has prospered in Myanmar’s hospitality sector since Min Aung Hlaing became the military chief in 2011.

Among the 12 hotels that Aung Myo Min Din has added to his hotel chain since 2010 is the Amazing Ngapali Resort on controversially acquired land in the popular Rakhine destination.

The land was seized by Myanmar’s military in 2000, supposedly to expand a military base. However, from around 2013 the land was leased for hotel construction to various companies, including Max Myanmar Co., owned by military crony Zaw Zaw.

Aung Myo Min Din bought the hotel, which was still under construction, from Zaw Zaw in 2015, and named it the Amazing Ngapali Resort.

Aung Myo Min Din met Min Aung Hlaing at an Independence Day dinner last month and during the junta chief’s visit to Ngapali on January 20.

Min Aung Hlaing called on Ngapali’s hotel operators to promote the beach among foreigners.

The signing ceremony was attended by Bulochnikov and the directors of the Treasure of Ngapali Development Co Ltd and Shwin Pyaw Pyaw Trading Co Ltd, according to the junta media. Deals were also signed on coffee production.

The Russian delegation reportedly visited Ngapali to discuss the promotion of Russian tourism.

The Russian elite is finding travel and trade increasingly difficult amid sanctions imposed because of last year’s invasion of Ukraine.