Connect with us

Property

Connecting the Myanmar-Phuket tourism dots

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

PHUKET: Myanmar is on my mind as I recall the famous line from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s classic poem Paul Revere’s Ride, “One if by land, and two if by sea”. The bard might very well have been speaking about Asia’s rising tourism dragon and Thailand’s neighbor Myanmar, though this slight annotation might also be apt: “Three if by low-cost airline carrier”.

Over the past year, I’ve been travelling for work to Yangon and beyond more times than I care to remember. The tropical coconut telegraph remains frenzied that the upside of the country is unlimited. And while I agree, the reality is that aside from the major attractions of the capital city – along with Inle Lake, Mandalay and Bagan – getting to the beaches is no easy feat.

Access and seasonal weather are key barriers to entry for the resort areas. On the ground the reality is that from May through September the monsoon season makes most of the beaches a no-go zone. Complicating this even more is the lack of electricity infrastructure in even the more developed destinations. No one ever said opening up a country was going to be easy.

One vast destination so far away from Phuket and yet so very near is the Mergui Archipelago. The broad dimensions of the area cover over 50,000 square kilometers with more than 800 islands. Prior to 1997, the Mergui Archipelago was cut off from foreign travellers. As for a gateway, Myeik is the most popular, but has limited domestic flights on a sporadic basis.

Dramatic limestone islands remain a signature of the island chain which is in many ways reminiscent of Phang Nga Bay or Halong in Vietnam. Local inhabitants are sparse and are mainly sea gypsies or Moken (the same ethnic group of fisherfolk who are found in Phuket’s coastal areas). Aside from the fishing, there is little other industry and the remoteness of the Archipelago makes it one of the region’s leading undiscovered jewels.

Phuket’s charter yacht and dive operators have been gradually drifting into the area, which is rich in marine and animal life, for a decade, as a natural continuation north of the Similan islands and up north in the Burma banks. For now, accommodation is mostly shipboard though a growing number of entrepreneurs are looking at establishing island resorts.

Of course seasonality and infrastructure remain firm obstacle, as does getting there. While Myanmar is rife with development, most of this is in more established areas, and the southern regions are going at a much slower pace. One much heralded development was the massive Dawei special economic development port zone, which had been partnered by Ital-Thai who pulled out of the venture late last year.

As I speak to tourism players, it’s increasingly apparent the natural fast track entry point looks to be through Phuket and then by boat from Phang Nga’s Tap Lamu or Kuraburi ports. Earlier this year there were announcements in the Thai media that the respective ports were going to expand their offerings to attract a renewed interest in marine vessels.

From my armchair in Phuket the natural connection between Phang Nga and the Mergui is clear, as the push from an overdeveloped island heads up north and starts connecting the dots towards Myanmar. It’s not easy developing an island-based tourism economy; just ask the Philippines where they have 7,107 of the things. The Maldives has been a shining example of what can be achieved despite the lack of land bridges.

For those in Phuket, the Myanmar tourism threat and opportunity remain highly visible, but as our international airport has created a vital hub, a sea hub can easily attain the same effect.

Bill Barnett is Managing Director of C9hotelworks and can be contacted through: c9hotelworks.com

— Bill Barnett

 

Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 mins ago

US is “unable” to provide Covid-19 vaccines to Americans who live overseas

Tourism42 mins ago

Sandbox could be revised, cancelled if Covid-19 outbreaks occur

Tourism2 hours ago

US Warns its citizens against traveling to Thailand

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Embassy of France in Thailand starts vaccine campaign for French nationals ages 55+

Road deaths3 hours ago

Driver killed after truck crashes from bridge, explodes in Hat Yai

Bangkok3 hours ago

Bangkok public hospitals run low on beds for Covid-19 patients in critical condition

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Lao woman rejected while trying to register for Covid-19 vaccine

Hong Kong4 hours ago

First person charged under Hong Kong security law goes to trial – without a jury

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Medical researchers look into combining vaccines to beat Delta variant

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: 3,174 new cases and 51 deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Restrictions eased in yellow zones

Phuket6 hours ago

It’s happening: Phuket sandbox approved by Cabinet

Thailand20 hours ago

Thailand News Today | AoT warns about tourist exuberance, easing of restrictions | June 22

Coronavirus (Covid-19)21 hours ago

CCSA: Bars to stay closed for now, drunk customers risk the spread of Covid-19

Bangkok21 hours ago

Woman dies after jumping from Phra Khanong BTS station in Bangkok

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending