Singapore-listed company Memories Group Ltd yesterday launched three new hotels in Myanmar, located in Mawlamyaing, Yangon and Mergui, respectively, even as tourist numbers dip and occupancy rates fall across the country.
The 72-room, 3-star Hotel Suggati will be Mawlamyaing’s newest hotel and is being positioned as a business hotel. Mawlamyaig is the fourth largest city in Myanmar, located 300 km southeast of Yangon, at the mouth of Thanlwin River. The city is the capital and largest city of Mon State and the main trading center and seaport in southeastern Myanmar.
“This city does not really have many options in the hospitality sector and we hope to fill a niche,” said Leila Nortier, general manager of Hotel Suggati.
In Yangon, Memories has opened Awei Metta, a 46-room hotel targeting business and leisure travelers. The property shares its grounds with the Pun Hlaing Golf Course, which has hosted the Asian Tour Myanmar Open for the past two years.
At the Mergui Archipelago, the group also opened the Awei Pila luxury resort, housing 24 tented villas on the island of Pila.
“Each of these hotels is designed differently and each will appeal to a different visitor. Awei Pila is most definitely a leisure resort, set on a secluded island. Awei Metta is a high-end stopping point for business travelers and visitors staying overnight in Yangon. And we expect Suggati will be popular with Yangonites and expats coming for a nice relaxing weekend,” Ms Nortier said.
The three hotels are coming to market at a time when tourist arrivals from the west have fallen and hotel occupancy rates in Myanmar have taken a beating.
According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar received 2.5 million international visitors up to September this year, which is flat compared with the same period last year. While tourist arrivals from Thailand, China, India and Malaysia are up between 5pc and 33pc year-on-year, a drop in the number of tourists from Europe offset those gains.
Yet, foreign investments in the hotel industry continue to rise in anticipation of growth in the future, U Myo Myint, director of the Department of Planning in the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism told The Myanmar Times yesterday.
“Foreign investment in the sectors has been rising since 2016 and most of the investors are from Singapore,” he said.
In 2016, a total of 57 new hotel projects worth US$3.1 billion (K4.9 trillion) were launched. As of the end of October this year, the number had risen to 67 projects worth $4.4 billion, he said.
Singapore leads in terms of investors, with 34 projects, while Thailand has 13, Japan six, Malaysia three, the United Kingdom three, South Korea one and Vietnam one, he said.
As of the end of October, there were 1704 hotels and guesthouses with some 68,000 rooms in the country.
The highest number of hotels – 47 – is being opened in Yangon. This is followed by Mandalay and Myeik with four each, Kawthaung and Tachileik with three each and Nay Pyi Taw, Bagan, Dawei , Pathein, Kalaw and Mawlamyaing with one hotel each, U Myo Myint said.
The decreasing number of tourists is “unfortunate,” but for the way Ms Nortier sees it, “we are not only aiming to bring in high-end foreign visitors but also local families and couples looking to get away from Yangon for a few days. We see an emerging middle-class in Myanmar who are demanding comfortable suites, options for international cuisine, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere,” she said.
“We are here for the long-term. So although tourist numbers may be low this year, they will only improve,” she added.