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Singapore Dominates Burma's Tourism (r)

Subject: Singapore Dominates Burma's Tourism Infrastructure

{Sorry, the last posting got chopped-off by the anon daemon :-(}

Singapore Dominates Burma's Tourism Infrastructure
by Michael Richardson,  "The Australian" September 19, 1995.

     In the presence of Lieutenant General Kyaw Ba, Burma's Minister
for Hotels and Tourism, a prominent Singapore company recently held a
ground breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction work on a
300-room international class hotel in Mandalay, the cultural hub of
northern Burma.

     The building of the Sedona Hotel in Mandalay at a cost of $US33.5
million by the Singapore's government-linked Keppel Group throws the
spot light on efforts by Burma's military rullers to develop tourism,
both for economic and political reasons.

     It also highlights the leading role of Singapore companies among
investors in Burma, especially in the tourism, transport, real estate
and infrastructure sectors.

     The Keppel Group aims to have the new Sedona open at the end of
1996, around the time the Burmese authoriries plan to start their 
Myanmar Year in October for 1996-97 financial year.

     Union of Myanmar was made the country;s official name by the
military regime, known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council,
which took power after crushing prodemocracy demonstrations in 1988.

     Since then, the number of tourists visiting Burma has risen to
close to 100,000 in 1994-95, from 26,000 in 1992-93, according to
government figures. Authorities hoped for 500,000 tourists in the
Visit Myanmar Year.

     Burma has many cultural and scenic attractions but that target
seems unlikely to be met, partly because the country's repressive
political image, especially in the West, and partly because of the
lack of adequate roads, transport, accomodation and other basic

     General Kyaw Ba referred to the political problem in his speech
at the Sedona's ground breaking ceremony.

     "Actually, we could have more visitors had some of the foreign
media spread the real political situation of the country," he said.

     "Because of the misinformation that exaggerates the insurgency,
many foreigners still hold to the impression that Myanmar is
politically unstable and therefore is not a safe place to travel."

     In fact, the military government has in recent years negotiated
ceasefires with more than a dozen ethnic minority insurgent forces,
although some anti-government guerillas still operate in the remote

     The release by the military of Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-
democracy leader Ms Aung San Suu kyi in July from six years of house
arrest was calculated to improve Burma's overseas image.

     General Kyaw Ba said Burma was politically stable and "safer than
any other part of the world" for visitors.

     Having the hotels, international-standard airports and expanded
air links is clearly essential to cater for the growing number of
business travellers as well as tourists to Burma.

     The Mandalay Sedona will complement a 450-room Sedona hotel
nearing completion in Rangoon, Burma's capital. That project will cost
the Keppel group about $US80 million.

     Rangoon's first new luxury hotel for business travellers, the
Summit Parkview, was opened last June by another Sigapore consortium
led by the government-linked Singapore Technologies group. The six-
storey, 250-room hotel cost $US40 million.

     Singapore Technologies recently signed a memorandum of under-
standing with Burma's Department of Civil Aviation to design and build
a new international airport near Mandalay capable of handling 
jets. The contract is worth nearly $US360 million and is scheduled to 
completed within two years of the final award of the contract, 

     Recent deals bring Singapore's approved investments in Burma to
about $US2.6 billion, making it by far the largest investor in the 

     By 1998, five Singapore-owned hotels will account for a third of
Rangoon's hotel rooms.

     But not evryone in convinced that Singapore's tourist, transport
and property development investment in Burma will pay off. Over the
next 24 months, 17 new hotels are scheduled to open in Rangoon alone,
increasing capacity by 5,600 rooms.

     While Burma had about 100,000 foreign visitors last year, Vietnam
had just over 1 million. Yet by the end of 1996, Burma's hotel capcity
will equal that of Vietnam, if all plans are realised, which suggests
there may be many rooms looking for occupants.

[Michael Richardson is editor for Asia of the International Herald
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