AS Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago is seeing a surge in demand from the upscale market there are now 12 approved projects under development and more applications under review, Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks said in his company’s latest research paper.
This archipelago, with over 800 islands, can only be accessed via marine transport and as of 2015 there are 21 licensed yacht operators in Myanmar for overnight trips with 20 of them being situated in Thailand.
“Of the 20, Phuket hosts 13, Ranong has five, and there is one each in Phang Nga and Bangkok.
“Based on the market offerings, tourists can begin their itinerary from either Thailand or Myanmar, with options of Tab Lamu Pier, Rassada Pier or Chalong Pier in Thailand, and Kawthaung Pier in Myanmar.
“As for day trip visitors, there are speedboats and fishing boats from Myeik and Kawthaung, which offer tours to either the northern or southern portions of Mergui,” Mr Barnett said in this research paper.
Because of adverse weather during the monsoons, tour operators do not offer trips from June to September with tourist sites like the Lampi Marine National Park also closed during this period.
The number of visitors to Mergui has increased substantially from just 1,158 in 2012 to 146,736 in the first half of this year with the influx rising after the opening of Ranong-Kawthaung border between the two countries.
C9 Hotelworks’ in-depth research also mentioned that in 2015 the average tourists spent about US$478 for scheduled itineraries and US$564 for chartered trips compared to the country’s average of US$171.
The age range of travelers to this archipelago is on the higher end of the scale and largely concentrated in the 40 to 60 year-old group.
UK is the leading source of visitors to the islands followed by US and Western Europe with France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy being the most prominent among the latter. Most tour operators mention that Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai are also key source markets for these islands.
“There are two hotels operating in the Mergui Archipelago, namely the Grand Andaman Resort on Tha Htay Kyun Island and Myanmar Andaman Resort on Macleod Island, totaling 227 keys.
“Kawthaung and Myeik also offer alternative accommodations for tourists on day trips to Mergui, with a total of 18 licensed establishments which have altogether 647 keys,” C9 Hotelworks research said.
As of the middle of this year, developments worth US$59 million had been approved by the Myanmar government but no details about the number of hotels were revealed because the islands’ leasehold tenure had only been recently granted.
Projects currently pending the approval by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) include a scheme for a casino, a golf course and a marine recreation center, Mr Barnett added.
TOP: This NASA natural color image acquired by Landsat 5 shows the middle portion of the Mergui archipelago, including Auckland and Whale bays. Photo: NASA
INSET: Mr Barnett says UK is the leading source of visitors to these islands.
By Thai Residents reporters