Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New hotel zone plan for Ngapali Beach

With tourism growing, the Rakhine State government is planning a new hotel zone near Ngapali Beach for long-term sustainable tourism.

Rakhine State Planning and Finance Minister U Kyaw Aye Thein told The Myanmar Times that the government was considering this, as there were some hotels in the area that were built without following regulations.

He said the exact location of the new hotel zone was not yet confirmed as it was still at planning stage.

“We are going to the area to assess the situation next month. Now, we are still planning. We want to systematically develop the beach area so it can be sustainable in the long term,” he said.

U Kyaw Aye Thein said according to the Hotel and Tourism Ministry’s directives for beach areas, buildings could not be higher than 30 feet.

But there was a hotel in Ngapali that had exceeded the maximum permitted building height, he said.

The hotel, he said, would have to take off its roof to comply with the height restriction.

Ngapali now has 26 hotels offering 878 rooms. There are 18 hotels with 615 rooms still under construction.

Daw Ohnmar Khin, officer in charge of Ngapali Beach’s Sandoway Resort, said the new hotel zone idea was good to promote tourism sustainability for Ngapali, which is popular for its sceneries, laid back village life and beach.

She agreed that the beach area needed policies for better control and management.

But she said plans for the new hotel zone should also take into account the other attractions of Ngapali, such as its village life that give visitors a cultural experience.

“Ngapali will be more developed with this plan. We hope the authorities will discuss with the local people, including the entrepreneurs here, on the new hotel zone.

“The hotel zone should not be too far from village areas. Without the village life, I think tourists won’t be so interested to visit just for the beach,” she said.

Daw Ohnmar Khin also called on the government to upgrade the airport, such as its runway, and immigration office, to promote tourism.

“We will get more tourists if there are direct flights connecting us with other countries. At least, with the countries in this region,” she said.

Tourism in Ngapali has been growing for the last 18 years. International arrivals had grown 20 percent last year – from 38,555 in 2015 to 43,440 tourists in 2016. Local visitor numbers were also up from 15,665 in 2015 to 27,879 in 2016.