Tourism Ministry to delegate hotel approvals, denies ban reports

By SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER

YANGON — The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has asked state and regional governments to take a more active role in considering future hotel permits, warning that an oversupply of rooms was posing problems for the sector.

Tourism officials told a Tuesday evening forum at the Chatrium Hotel that from the end of October, the ministry would require a letter of support from regional governments for all future hotel applications.

U Hlaing Oo, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, said regional governments would be expected to consider the current state of the hotel market, warning that the current excess capacity could affect the long-term investment outlook of foreign operators.

Tourism Minister U Ohn Maung said plans were underway for a revamp of industry strategy, with a new focus on the Myeik archipelago in Tanintharyi Region as a tourist destination.

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“In promoting [Myeik], not only land strategies are important but water issues must be considered as well,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Environmental Conservation would advise on sustainable development of the area’s tourism potential.

Earlier this month, real estate firm Colliers International reported a dramatic drop in room costs at the middle and upper end of the Yangon hotel market. While average capacity remained steady, a number of recent hotel openings has driven fierce competition between operators over the past 12 months.

A Tuesday article in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar claimed that the Tourism Ministry was planning to knock back all hotel applications in Yangon and Mandalay for the foreseeable future, a report Ohn Maung denied that evening.

“Depending on time and circumstances, if it is necessary to build hotels, we will allow it in other places,” he said. “We are definitely not prohibiting [new hotels] and nor are we temporarily stopping permissions. It is just to make sure investors are not investing in error.”

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