MORE THAN 200 hotel rooms will be added in the Myeik Archipelago in the coming high season starting in October and November, said U Hlwan Moe, in charge of the Kawthaung District Directorate of Hotels and Tourism under the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
U Hlwan Moe said that nine local and foreign companies have received permission from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) to construct hotels on 12 islands in the Myeik Archipelago. New hotels will emerge on Nyaung Oo Phee Island, Wa Ale Island, Hlainggu Island, Ngakhinnyogyi Island, 115 Island, Phoni Island, Balar Island and Thahtay Island before this high season.
There are more than 800 islands in the region, of which about 140 islands are popular among visitors as well as investors.
U Hlwan Moe added that the region has had accommodation problems due to insufficient numbers of hotel rooms as visitor arrivals in Myeik increase year on year. The problem is expected to be solved after finishing the new projects this year.
He continued to say that the telecommunication barrier is one of main challenges the travellers face in the region.
“For the time being, the arrival of visitors to the region has decreased this monsoon because of weather conditions. The number of visitors from home and abroad obviously has increased within the past two or three years, especially on Thingyan holidays, Christmas Day, New Year and other significant days.
Thanks to a quick registration process, day trippers can easily visit the island after reporting their trip to the respective department. This is one of reasons why traveller arrivals are increasing in the region. Before October 2010, day trippers could visit the area only after gaining permission from the authorities.
With the current government, several tourism improvement programmes are being developed by a committee founded by the Union government in partnership with regional authorities to transform the region as a new tourism destination, said U Ohn Myint, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
“Plans are underway to explore Myeik Archipelago as a new tourism site. The projects are being implemented in collaboration with Taninthayi Region Development Committee. It will take a long time to develop the schemes in the islands, with plans to allow only one kind of business in each island to protect the natural environment,” said U Ohn Myint.
U Hsan Myint, deputy director-general of Myanmar Investment Commission, said; “The MIC directly monitors all permitted enterprises within the country, making field trips to project areas in partnership with relevant government departments. A business cannot gett permission from the MIC only. It needs to apply for licenses at the respective ministries which are responsible for scrutinising the project proposals.
“Action will be taken against those businesspersons who failed to abide by the existing rules and regulations.”
According to U Hlwan Moe, the majority of visitors are currently from Thailand. According to official statistics, around 300,000 foreigners visited the region last year, including 250,000 Thai citizens. Over the first five months of this year, the number of foreign visitors in the region reached around 160,000, comprised of some Americans and those from western states.
Holidaymakers to the Myiek Archipelago are very interested in eco-tourism, officials said. Hiking, bird watching, diving, trekking and snorkeling are some of the popular tours. Many of the travellers visit the region regularly. Some foreigners stay in the region for as long as 28 days. They also enjoy four or five-day sightseeing trips on luxury motor boats.
To protect the natural environment of the region, the ministry has issued dos and don’ts for visitors, including good waste management and safety plans, U Hlwan Moe explained, adding that visitors are required to use local guides for sea trips. Visitors are been banned from touching natural coral reefs and taking the shells of sea snails.
May Thet Hnin