Myanmar’s been getting a lot of attention these days, and for once, it’s in a good way. The recent government reforms are leading to a kinder, gentler Burma and The Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is engaging in a big push for more tourists – their goal is to hit 1 million visitors in 2012. The problem? Not enough hotel rooms.
The BBC notes in their recent story Is Burma Ready for Foreign Investment that some hotels are currently at over 90% capacity. That’s up from about 65% since the historic elections back in November.
At the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Manado, Indonesia in January, Phroe Wai Yarzar, Secretary of the Myanmar Tourism Board said that hotels in Burma were booked until March – that’s every single hotel room in the country booked 2 months in advance.
Much of the Myanmar Tourism Board’s presentation centred on how they plan to remedy that. It included several slides on construction projects currently underway to increase between 5 and 10 percent the number of licensed hotels, motels, and guesthouses in the country by year end. There are currently 691 hotels with 23454 rooms.
The thing is, building a hotel doesn’t happen overnight. So even with the projected 5 to 10 percent increase, it may not be enough to keep up with demand. Yarzar also mentioned something that appeared to be a complete shift in thinking from the old regime – the possibility of amending the law to allow for homestays in Myanmar. They are currently illegal in the country, but could be an quick win to shift the burden away from hotels. And a boon for independent travellers seeking enriching, and budget-friendly, experiences.
Will the Myanmar government actually allow homestays? We’ll see. But since Myanmar was listed as number 2 in Lonely Planet’s Top Countries for 2012 they are going to need all the help they can get.
You can see the Myanmar Tourism Board’s full presentation here: