RANGOON — The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is looking to further expand Thandwe Airport in southern Arakan State to accept large passenger planes from international destinations and serve foreign tourists wishing to visit nearby Ngapali Beach.
Hotels and Tourism Minister U Ohn Maung revealed the plan at a meeting with a local hotel business association and the Ngapali Beach supervisory committee in Ngapali on Sunday, according to Arakan State Minister of Finance and Revenue U Kyaw Aye Thein.
He said the tourism ministry established there has sufficient land available to extend the runway and build an international terminal to encourage tourists to fly directly to southern Arakan State’s award-winning beaches without transferring in Rangoon.
The runway at Thandwe Airport was previously extended and civil aviation buildings were constructed in a 440 million kyats project completed in 2016.
“We are still thinking about the project, it has not been decided yet,” said U Kyaw Aye Thein. “We will invite international developers to collaborate if we decide to go ahead with it.”
Arakan State lawmaker U Naing Kyway Aye, who presented at the meeting on Sunday, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the Union minister’s trip to the area focused on the airport expansion, but that other that other issues—such as waste and hotel development projects—would take priority.
Attendees of Sunday’s meeting told The Irrawaddy that the minister and a Ngapali hotel business association discussed environmental conservation, waste management, local policing in tourist areas, sand mining, and a local debate over the three-to-five story limit on guesthouses.
U Naing Kyway Aye said the Union minister also claimed he knew that some hotels had been illegally operating without business licenses for years and urged them to apply for permits in line with government procedures, but did not threaten action against them.
U Ohn Maung designated an area of the Tha Htay River to mine sand for construction projects and promised to provide more garbage bins to create a trash-free zone, according to regional minister U Kyaw Aye Thein.
In addition, the ministers inspected coastal areas where the state government proposed to open seven new beach resorts, one in Gwa Township and two in Thandwe Township, in February.
U Ohn Maung is also attending a two-day sustainable tourism workshop organized by The Myanmar Responsible Tourism Institute, according to U Kyaw Aye Thein.
This article was edited to clarify that the tourism ministry would prioritize managing waste and hotel development over airport expansion.