This “Sleeping Beauty” Country is Awaken by Technology and Tourism
May Myat Mon Win grew up in Myanmar in the 70s era with the dream of a day when her country could be like its neighbors I Southeast Asia. Today, as the chairperson of the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Community (MTMC), she sees that the dream is within sight, but “the journey has just begun, we have to work hard.” In terms of building up tourism arrivals to the country which once housed Southeast Asia busiest-airport in the 60s and developing its tourism infrastructure to cater to growing demand to visit this once-closed destination. “We just didn’t know how long it would take,” she said.
May became Myanmar’s first female general manager of a five star hotel when she took on the reins at Chatrium Hotel Roya Lake Yangon in 2014. She was heading the first Myanmar B2B roadshow in Singapore to mark the 30-day visa free exemption for Singaporeans as well as the launch of new flights to Singapore by Myanmar National Airways. She said that this will help stimulate last minute travel, and also today, people like to make last minute plans and it’s about instant decisions. That’s why she believed that she has to be there at the point of where the customer is.
The change didn’t happened without any occasion. As an example of a country that is leapfrogged to mobile, Myanmar’s mobile penetration is at nearly 50%. Technology has changed their lives. May also said that people’s first experience of the internet is via mobile and probably facebook. “Technology has changed our lives, the way we do business in hospitality has changed, our distribution channels have changed. A lot of new businesses have to learn how to take advantage of technology.”
In her 300-room hotel, 75% of the business comes from direct B2B while the rest comes from OTAs and direct website. She said hoteliers in Myanmar have started discussing Airbnb and its implications on their business “but it’s not a big issue yet, the numbers are still insignificant.” For now, the top priority of MMTC’s agenda is increasing visitors from Singapore to Myanmar with the new visa-free ruling anf additional flights, up to 40 flights a week between the two places. These two countries have always had strong diplomatic and business ties.
Last year, Myanmar welcomed just under five millions visitors, and now, the official target is to increase the amount of visitors up to 7 million by 2020. There have been talk of not enough room to cater to increased demand over the last two to three years, and May said that this is no longer true, because the government has permitted investment and infrastructure development, which makes there are new hotels opening in every destination with its own variety of hotel, ranging from 2 to 5 tar hotels with its good quality. “We want to correct the myth – there is plenty of room, year-round, as well as improved air connectivity for every type of traveler,” said May.
Nowadays, the new freedom is to be found in Myanmar. And May clearly enjoying it, compare to the living she had 22 years ago when she started her work in hospitality. “The young generation today are very lucky.” Her bigger concern is hotel planning with better demand and supply planning that is too up and down for several years. If they don’t work on demand, they will go into oversupply again, said her.
The sustainability of their services in this business – in term of gaining visitors is the key, so it is better lives for its people. Asia provides 70% of all travelers with Thai, Chinese, and Japanese leading the way. Europe has always been attractive, high-yield market but is too seasonal, busy for only four months of the year. “We need to even out the demand from Europe,” she said. Another concern is whether Myanmar could lose its charm as tourism grows at a speed faster than its infrastructure and human resource capability can handle.
“Our vision is to have a sustainable destination. The advantage of being the last one is we can learn from others, what to do and what not to do. Tourism can contribute to the economic development of our country. There are a lot of rural areas that can be developed such as Loikaw and Inya Lake and people can have better lives through tourism.”
Source : webintravel.com