While each has its own unique DNA, what’s clear is that there are different paths ahead for the group.
According to research released in C9 Hotelworks’ new Ngapali Beach Tourism Market Review, last year more than 70,000 visitors were recorded which was an impressive 31% year-on-year increase.
Most travellers come via flights to the gateway Thandwe Airport on domestic service from Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Heho and Sittwe.
C9 Managing Director Bill Barnett said: “From our discussions with the local authorities, Thandwe is currently in advanced discussions to add in direct international flights in the not too distant future. As Myanmar’s aviation sector is on the upswing, the impact of more airlift to Thandwe last year pushed growth up 28% and more importantly fed in numbers during low season. ”
On the hotel front, Mr Barnett said: “Rates at international hotels remain strong given limited supply. Average room rates in upscale accommodation ranges from USD150-200 and with new demand occupancy levels on an annualized basis are now exceeding 60%. One key addition to the market has been the arrival of the Hilton brand.
“Ngapali’s supply is relatively small with 26 establishments hosting a total of 878 keys. With the Thandwe hotel zone now becoming crowded the government is expanding the zone South by 7 kilometers and will be broken into two phases. The key infrastructure to the area that will be added are roadways, electricity and other public service.”
While 69% of demand is from overseas travellers, domestic tourism is rising fast, Mr Barnett said. “Access remains the key, and the hotel pipeline of new projects now standards at 516 key under development,” he said.
“The four key beach destinations in the country – Ngapali, Kawthaung, Ngwe Saung and Chaungtha – are four very different products. The latter two, given driving access to Yangon clearly are more attractive to surging domestic numbers and more volume driven products.
“In the case of Kawthaung, this is rapidly evolving as a tourism hub for the Mergui Archipelago and the connection to the nearby Thai market of Greater Phuket via Phang Nga and Ranong has many synergies.”
Proudly contributed by DAVID GILLBANKS