Apr 24, 2014

Foreign hotels to be completed by mid-year

Foreign hotel projects currently under construction will be inaugurated by mid year according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Most of the projects, including international hotel chains, are located in Yangon, according to Director General Aung Zaw Win.

“Novotel Hotel will be opened in the mid year. Others such as Center Point and Shangrila will soon follow too,” Aung Zaw Win said.

New hotels will provide up to 2000 new rooms which will be available to cater for growing numbers of tourists expected in the coming high season.

A project co-owned by the Yangon City Development Committee plans to renovate colonial-era railway offices near Lahapyin market. Another hotel complex and business centre being built by Vietnamese company is also in the works.

According to the ministry’s press release in April, there are more than 900 hotels in the country among which 40 hotel buildings are foreign investments worth US$ 1.7 billion.

Myanmar currently has only five five-star hotels in Yangon, according to the Myanmar Hotelier Community.

As the country’s tourism begins to boom, the price of hotel rooms has been rising high above neighbouring countries, mainly due to higher demand.

There has also been criticism raised by tourists that the value of service is still weak relative to the high prices of accommodation.

Source: Eleven Weekly Media

Apr 23, 2014

Yangon Online Delivers Amazon, eBay And Apple To Myanmar

The website of the Yangon Online Store resembles an early, very pared-down Amazon or eBay site. The familiar categories of merchandise for sale include books, electronics, computers, sports equipment, health & beauty, clothing, automotive, and Apple products.

Look a little closer and you will notice that only a few items have prices listed and that there’s no way to pay for them online; there are no credit card or PayPal logos. Nor is there the option that many Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese shopping sites offer: payment by direct transfer from the customer’s bank account to the website’s bank.

The explanation is that all payments are conducted in person in Yangon Online’s shiny glass-fronted brick-and-mortar shop on Yaw Min Gyi St. in Myanmar’s capital. The shop is about a block from the cloth and jewelry vendors of traditional Bogyoke Market. The Yangon Online service is the four-year-old brainchild of a Burmese living in the United States. Would-be customers first browse the site and decide what they want to buy.

Since the products have been culled from Amazon and eBay sites and Apple stores in the United States, customers can phone the Yangon Online shop and ask about buying Amazon and other online products not listed on the Yangon Online Store website. (Yes, obtaining an iffy internet connection in your home is still very expensive in Myanmar but time in a neighborhood internet shop runs around 30 cents an hour.)

Eventually, though, customers must come into the Yangon store to put down a cash deposit of 50% of the total price. Yangon Online reps in the U.S. buy the items and package them for overseas shipment. Typically, delivery takes two or three weeks. Customers pay the remaining amount in cash when they come to the shop to pick up their order.

Ab machines, iPhones and golf clubs

A $50 Coach handbag from Amazon, for example, is shipped free within the United States but Yangon Online’s delivery service to Myanmar plus taxes will add another $35 or so (or its kyat equivalent). A $599 fifth-generation iPhone in the United States ends up costing $700 by the time it arrives in Myanmar (aka Burma). A $50 T-shirt ends up costing $67 on delivery. Naturally, the extra fees depend a lot on weight and size of the item.

I found this business interesting if just because the Yangon Online website seems to be a window on what rich Burmese view as necessary luxuries, although of course expats are Yangon Online customers as well. Perhaps I should say it’s a window on wealthy capital dwellers.It’s a little strange that there isn’t a Yangon Online branch in Mandalay, given that so many conspicuously consuming mainland Chinese reside in the northern second city.

There might be no other place in the country to buy digital lasers, pipe threaders, GPS devices, sound cards, engineering software, golf clubs and tennis racquets. It would be a pain and big expense to haul some of these products on a plane from Thailand. But abs workout sytems? Lancome serum booster and Beyoncé Parfum spray? $700 for the latest iPhone model? A $67 T-shirt? Who needs that stuff? The clerk in the shop told me that cosmetics, perfume and clothing are the most popular purchases.

I hasten to add that there are plenty of late-model smartphones, iPod accessories, computers and digital cameras for sale in Yangon and Mandalay. A few people obviously want and can afford very recent specific models. The iPhones I have seen for sale in downtown Yangon are probably grey market or second-hand from Thailand. (Can we abandon the theme of Myanmar as some kind of hermit kingdom isolated from world events, technology, trade and Walt Disney? There are at least 2 million Burmese working in Thailand alone. Tens of thousands in Singapore and Malaysia. They go back and forth all the time, sometimes daily. They buy stuff to bring home.)

In smaller towns and cities, small shops with glass-covered displays of mobile phones are favorite browsing hangouts. A surprising number of not particularly affluent Burmese have Blackberrys and the newer cheap Chinese-brand smartphones. Phones–or rather, SIM cards–are still expensive. Burmese (though not expats) can get one for less than $100 nowadays but I have met many not particularly rich Burmese that spent $300 just a few years ago for a basic phone or spent thousands several years before that.

Consumer spending isn’t now much of a growth engine in Myanmar. Annual per capita income is around $1,000. Government spending accounts for something like 25% of GDP. But maybe Yangon Online is a signal of future directions.

Source: Forbes

Apr 22, 2014

Myanmar Real Estate Show 2014

Date of event: 26 - 28 May 2014

Venue: Traders Hotel Yangon, Myanmar

Description: Myanmar Real Estate Show 2014 is your gateway to trends and investment opportunities in Myanmar’s real estate. Exploring areas of development and investment opportunities with a series of best practice showcases, thought-provoking panel discussions and riveting speaking topics by experienced industry leaders and experts, be prepared for three days of insightful content combined with unparalleled networking opportunities which may be make-or-break in an emerging market like Myanmar.

Contact Person: Lily Low, Database & Marketing Executive, +65 6848 5372, lily@sphereconferences.com

Website: www.resm.sphereconferences.com

Myanmar Urban Development Conference 2014

Date of event: 26 - 28 May 2014

Venue: Traders Hotel Yangon, Myanmar

Description: The 2nd edition of Myanmar Urban Development Conference is the only strategic city planning and infrastructure development conference dedicated to addressing the scope and ambitions towards urbanising the new Myanmar.

You can expect 3 days of cutting-edge content delivered by an impressive panel of government and industry leaders and experts. Combine this with the unrivalled networking opportunities; urban planning and development professionals, as well as investors from around the world will be privy to first-hand information surrounding the urban development scene in Myanmar.

Contact Person: Zhu Jiahui, Marketing Executive, , jiahui@sphereconferences.com

Website: www.mudc.sphereconferences.com

Apr 21, 2014

Myanmar braces for tourist boom with 48 new hotels

There will be 48 new hotels providing a total of 37,024 rooms to be opened across the country within the next three months, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Last year, there were 923 hotels and more than 30,000 rooms. In 2012 there were only 787 hotels. Despite this increase in accommodation, some regions have been unable to accommodate increasing numbers of visitors.

Many tourists are interested in visiting remote parts of Chin, Kachin, Kayah and Shan States which used to be out of bounds but many of these areas lack appropriate accommodation.

“In Chin State, there are southern and northern parts. Tourists mostly visit to Natmataung in southern part. We usually send tourists to northern parts such as Teedin and Harkhar townships but there are fewer hotels there. Even if there are hotels, the hotels don’t meet international standards. We saw bungalows being constructed near Reed Lake. Now that transportation is better, tourists may increase in the future,” said tourist guide Ye Htet.

At present, there are 2 hotels in Kalay, Chin State, 52 hotels in Nay Pyi Taw and 244 in Yangon, 114 in Mandalay, 77 in Bagan, Nyaung Oo, 75 in Taunggyii-Inlay according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Myanmar expects 3 million tourists to visit the country in this year and 7 million in 2015, especially during the high season that starts in September.

Source: Eleven Weekly Media

Large-scale copper mining at Sabeitaung (Kyaysintaung) project to generate over US$ 100 million for Myanmar government

The mountainous landscape is fast disappearing as the mining project has been extracting about 70 tons of copper a day at Sabei and Kyaysin mountains, raising concern on environmental woes.

Although the project is being billed with least environmental impacts, Letpadaungtaung Investigation Commission’s report has voiced concern for harmful effects on the environment.

Copper mining, jointly operated by Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings and Myanmar Yang Tse Copper, has the monthly capacity to move some eight million tons of dirt, out of which would yield about 1.5 million tons of copper ores.

The ores would be smelted for the daily production of 70-ton copper. The mining revenue is estimated around US$460,000 per day at the current market price.

“From Sabei and Kyaysin mountains, the mine would extract eight million tons of soil containing 1.5 million tons of ores. Out of this, 70 tons of pure copper is produced daily, amounting to 2,100 tons for a month,” said TheinHtun, official in-charge for Sabei and Kyaysin mountains copper mining site.

A project official OhnLwinMyint said that the oxidized solution, by-product created by liquidizing the copper ores with mild acid in order to extract copper, will not be thrown away. Based on the mining regulations, the solution containing liquid copper is not allowed to be dumped.

“The polluted solution contains copper, so it is precious. It cannot be brought outside. Once it is done so, ISO certificate together with our copper is depreciated. Depending on ISO certificate, we will gain more profitable price determined by London Metric Exchange. Mainly, it depends on how we can minimize impacts to the environment,” said OhnLwinMyint.

As the price of copper on April 18 is around US$ 6,647 per ton quoted in London Metric Exchange, the two mining operators are earning more than US$ 465000 per day.

The operators are managing the mining project under contract based on production sharing agreement.

The permit for large-scale mineral mining, required for the project, was granted on January 7, 2011 while the foreign investment approval was made on March 18, 2011 with the duration of 25 years to mine 6,253.04 acres located on two mountains.

Sabei Mountain is presently a big hole in the aftermath of copper mining. Operators plan to level the landscape before transforming the site into a man-made lake.

Source: Eleven Weekly Media

Foreign investment in Myanmar totalling over US$46 billion

Myanmar recorded US$4.1 billion in foreign investment for fiscal year 2013-2014, tallying the total investment from 34 countries to US$46 billion, according to Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration.

The number of countries invested in Myanmar increased by two from 32 in the previous fiscal year. Some 50,571 jobs were created by December due to the inflow of foreign capital.

Foreign investment projects include energy, petroleum and natural gas, commodities, mineral extraction, hotel and tourism, property development, livestock, fisheries and agriculture.

Last year saw a steady flow of investment being channelled to the production of commodities, said the Myanmar Investment Commission.

China ranks first with more than US$14 billion in investment, followed by Thailand (US$10 billion) and Hong Kong (US$6 billion).

Source: Eleven Weekly Media