Sphere Conferences, the conference arm of Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH), today launched the 3rd annual Myanmar Hospitality and Tourism Conference (MHTC 2015). Supported by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, and jointly-organised by Sphere Conferences and the Myanmar Tourism Federation, MHTC 2015 is the country’s only dedicated conference for the hospitality professionals in the Asia Pacific region. It is held from 9 to 10 June at the Kempinski Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
More than 200 hospitality professionals from 15 countries gathered to discuss issues, challenges and opportunities in Myanmar’s booming hospitality and tourism sector. The discussions entail a wide range of topics ranging from investment climate and macro-economic issues impacting the hospitality sector, to owner-operator relationship, enhancing customer experience and tackling HR challenges.
From Left: Mr Chua Wee Phong, Chairman, Sphere Conferences; Mr Alan Chan, CEO, Singapore Press Holdings; H.E U Htay Aung, Union Minister, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism; U Yan Win, Chairman, Myanmar Tourism Federation
His Excellency U Htay Aung, Union Minister, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism; His Excellency U Zayar Aung, Union Minister, Ministry of Energy; His Excellency Dr. Than Aung, Union Minister, Ministry of Health; His Excellency U Win Shein, Union Minister, Ministry of Finance; His Excellency Dr. Kan Zaw, Union Minister, Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, His Excellency U Than Htay, Union Minister for Rail Transportation were the Guest of Honours to officiate the opening ceremony.
Government organisations and non-government associations that were present included Lux Dev, GIZ, Myanmar Tourism Federation, Myanmar Hotelier Association, Myanmar Tourism Marketing and Union of Myanmar Travel Association. Private companies from Myanmar and the region included Amazing Group, Amara Hotel, Centara Hotels & Resorts, Dusit International, Home Box Office, Hotel @ Tharabar Gate, Kempinski Hotel, Myat Min Group, MasterCard Asia, Melia Hotels International, Novotel Yangon Max, Review Pro, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Savills, Sedona Hotel Yangon, Sule Shangri-La, Summit Parkview Hotel, Tangram Hotels and more.
The conference started with a special session with some key visionaries in the hospitality sector sharing their perspectives on navigating through Myanmar’s dynamic hospitality market. Participants at the keynote panel were leaders from key FDI hotels in Myanmar. Following the panel discussion, Curtis S. Chin, former US Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank shared his views on the economic sustainability of frontier markets such as Myanmar. After the talk, a panel discussion was held between local hotel owners and international operators to discuss “the pursuit of the ideal operator”.
Speaking at the conference, Mr GOH York Lin, President, Keppel Land Myanmar, said: “Myanmar is only at the beginning of a long-run economic growth trend. Investors with a strategic entry plan will be better rewarded than those in for opportunistic venture.”
The highlight of the conference also included a panel specially put together to discuss “Nay Pyi Taw as the new MICE Destination”.
Franck, the chairman of the MICE Nay Pyi Taw Zone, said: “The capital (Nay Pyi Taw) is also studded with many grand buildings and supported with new infrastructure, including the grand majestic parliament, the world-class stadiums, international-standard hotels, and vast highways. It is also surrounded by bluish Shan mountain ranges, and the beauty of the peaceful up-country adds to the splendour of the capital. It is true Myanmar is mainly based on natural and cultural attractions. But now that the market is booming, Nay Pyi Taw has also become an important destination not only for holidaymakers but also for business people.”
On the second day of the conference, U Hlaing Oo, Deputy Director General from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, will open the conference with a keynote presentation on new destinations and an update on the current investment situation in the hospitality sector in Myanmar. Following that will be discussions between local hoteliers to address some key issues such as human resource management in a labour crunch economy, emerging from competition through creating unique and unforgettable customer experience.
Dr Nay Zaw Aung, Managing Director, Clover Hotels, said: “Having enjoyed a tremendous growth in the last 5 years and with the upcoming elections in November 2015, it is indeed exciting times for the Myanmar Hospitality Industry.
After the elections, there will be more Foreign Direct Investments in Myanmar and International Hotel Chains will undoubtedly be among them. Therefore, it is now very important for Local Hoteliers to be prepared if they still want to be in the game. As Locals, we do have a few advantages such as better understanding of the local culture, human resources, logistics and supply chains in Myanmar. In order to survive the competition, we have to utilize such advantages to give us a competitive edge. It is also very important to be up to date with all the changing trends in the industry and be ready to take necessary actions to meet any new demands arising from such changes.
All in all, I believe that increased competition will improve the quality of our Industry and hopefully Myanmar will be recognized as a World Class Top Destination in the coming years.”
This year, the conference is also packed with fun-filled social activities such as visit to the Parliament House (Hluttaw) in Nay Pyi Taw, networking cocktails and dinner, as well as a showcase of hotels and other tourism related products in Myanmar.
H.E U Htay Aung, Union Minister, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, said: “In 2014, Myanmar received over 3 million tourists with a growth rate of 51%. We hosted the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2015 in January this year, and this helped to enhance the country’s tourism growth. With such bright prospects for the tourism industry, Myanmar needs a sound hospitality infrastructure in place to meet the ever increasing demand from both business and leisure travellers. In this two-day conference, I would like to urge the delegates to actively participate in the conference and make best use of the opportune time to come up with fruitful outcomes and discussions for the furtherance of the Myanmar’s hospitality and tourism sector.”
Mr Chua Wee Phong, Chairman, Sphere Conferences, said: “The UNWTO in its Tourism Highlights 2014 edition reported that the total number of International Tourist Arrivals across the globe grew by 5% in 2013, crossing the 1 billion record mark. Within that, the Asia Pacific region emerged the strongest with a 6% growth. Here in Myanmar, tourist arrivals have witnessed unprecedented levels of growth, with more than 2 million arrivals in 2013, up 93% from the previous year and 158% from 2010. A little lesser than 820,000 travellers entered through Yangon, which is a 46.1% increase Year-on-Year. Recognising the need to increase infrastructure and investment, both the government and business community immediately set to work to lure hospitality firms and investors to build international standard hotels. This conference is therefore both timely and apt to allow hoteliers, financiers, and investors to uncover, analyse and develop Myanmar’s potential as a formidable forerunner in Asia’s tourism scene.”
For the complete list of speakers, visit the event website at www.mhtc.sphereconferences.com