One of the hottest hotel markets in the world right now is Myanmar (Burma), and Best Western has confirmed plans to tap the enormous potential this stunning country has to offer.
Speaking about the opportunities afforded in Myanmar, Best Western’s Vice President of International Operations for Asia & the Middle East, Glenn de Souza, said the recent emergence of the country had left it in urgent need of quality, international accommodation.
“The pace of development in Myanmar over the past few years has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said Mr. de Souza. “The progressive range of new government policies introduced since the elections of 2010, plus the relaxation of economic sanctions, has reduced boundaries to investment. And crucially, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s support for inbound tourism has created huge demand for travel to the country.
“It is estimated that international visitor arrivals to Myanmar will reach 1.5 million in 2013, up 50% from 2012, and this is likely to increase exponentially in the years to come. Airlines including Qatar Airways, AirAsia, China Airlines, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines are have all relaunched services to the country, further fuelling the tourism boom.
“But there is still a severe shortage of hotels in Myanmar. Currently there are only around 28,000 hotel rooms in the country - fewer than in downtown Bangkok. A recent report by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels predicted that Yangon (Rangoon) alone would see a 37% increase in hotel supply every year between 2012 and 2015. Meanwhile 80 new hotels are being planned in the capital city Naypyidaw, which will host the Southeast Asian Games this year.
“So there are clearly significant opportunities in the country for an internationally-renowned hotel operator like Best Western. We are currently exploring options the country, looking for quality, long-term partners with whom to work. Once we enter Myanmar, we intend to stay for the long-term. We will create hotels that not only satisfy customer demand, but which deliver tangible benefits to the local community,” Mr. de Souza added.
Markets identified by Best Western for potential development include Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw, along with up-and-coming cities such as Sittwe and Bago and tourist centers including Bagan and Lake Inle.
While all three of Best Western's brand tiers could be suitable for Myanmar, Mr. de Souza said the classic midscale BEST WESTERN brand offered the most attractive opportunities.
“While Myanmar is suffering shortages in all levels of the hotel market, there is a complete absence of internationally-branded midscale accommodation in the country. With hotel rates in Myanmar currently soaring, Best Western could offer an exciting value proposition in several key markets, including Yangon,” Mr. de Souza commented.
“We will consider however, opportunities for all three of our brands - midscale BEST WESTERN, upscale BEST WESTERN PLUS and luxury BEST WESTERN PREMIER - with our partners, and will develop based on the needs of the market,” he added.
Best Western International currently operates in eight of the 10 countries that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Myanmar would be the ninth, and with the region moving towards the ASEAN Economy Community in 2015, Best Western’s strong regional profile will afford it huge advantages in the years to come.“Myanmar is clearly one of the most exciting and fast-moving countries in the world today, which makes it a good fit for Best Western - one of the world’s most forward-thinking and fast-expanding hotel companies. The future looks incredibly bright for both parties,” Mr. de Souza concluded.