Friday, August 18, 2017

Capital hoteliers address empty rooms

A lack of tourist attractions combined with overly-optimistic developers has left around 80 percent of Nay Pyi Taw hotel rooms empty on any given day. But the chair of a local  tourism industry body believes better marketing can help the city improve its visitor numbers.

Myanmar workers walk past an arch at the entrance of a park in Nay Pyi Taw. Photo: AFPMyanmar workers walk past an arch at the entrance of a park in Nay Pyi Taw. Photo: AFP

U Than Htut, chair of the Nay Pyi Taw Hotel Entrepreneurs Association said that on average around 1000 of available hotel rooms were occupied every day across the nation’s capital.

“Most days it’s about 1000 rooms rented, but it’s not regular,” he said. Sometimes there are only around 300 or 400 occupied hotel rooms across the city, he added.

There are three hotel zones in Nay Pyi Taw with almost 50 hotels offering a total of more than 5000 rooms.  But tourists are rare in the capital, where there are few attractions or tourist sites, according to local and international travel agencies.

U Than Htut, however, argues that the capital has undiscovered gems.

“There are interesting places in and around Nay Pyi Taw,” he said. “We will uncover them so that people know.”

Nay Pyi Taw's hotel conundrum

The hotel association chair pointed to religious sites including the Uppatasanti Pagoda and the Thatta Thattaha Maha Bawdi Pagoda – both of which have robust reviews on the website trip advisor. Nay Pyi Taw also boasts a Water Fountain Garden, a Zoo – one of the largest in Southeast Asia – and the Defense Services Museum.

The capital may lack Yangon’s fecundity when it comes to tourist draws, but with pagodas, penguins and spitfires on display local hoteliers think Nay Pyi Taw should be pulling in more visitors than it does.

U Than Htut, director of international business relations at Eden Group – a developer that has partnered with the Hilton Group in Myanmar – urged the Nay Pyi Taw Hotel Entrepreneurs Association to provide potential visitors with more detail on the city’s attractions.

There should be more information on social media and on hotel websites in Myanmar and English language, he said. Bagan – one of Myanmar’s ancient capitals and an internationally renowned tourist site – does not need to educate travellers, but Nay Pyi Taw does, he added.

“After tourists read these [sources of information] we can also provide photos for them if they want to,” he said. “If they want to contact the attraction and go by themselves, we will provide them with information on the address, phone number, and entrance fees and how long it will take them.”

Hotel owners are also hoping to see more greenery around the capital, following the announcement last year of a five-year city council plan to turn the Nay Pyi Taw into a green city.

U Win Oo Than, general manager of the Golden Palace Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw, also pointed to the lack of traffic
accidents and air pollution.  

“All will be wonderful when [tourists] reach Nay Pyi Taw,” he said.

Although a small population and a surfeit of multi-lane highways does mean Nay Pyi Taw can claim traffic is not a problem, there hotel association is also investigating criticism from tourists about areas in which the city falls short.

U Than Htut added that efforts to create promotional videos for Nay Pyi Taw tourism are already underway.

“We are making videos about the places that people may be interested in,” he said. “The main point is to inform people about the unknown places and that they can have variety of places to choose from.”

These videos will be distributed at tourism ceremonies, and shown to journalists, he said. The more the information about Nay Pyi Taw’s lures can be disseminated the more the capital’s popularity will improve, he added. Making Nay Pyi Taw popular in the near future is not impossible, but it will take some time, he said.

Translation by San Layy and Khine Thazin Han