Why Myanmar is an upcoming destination for business events

Myanmar has been actively promoting its business events offerings. Source: Thitiwat Samitinantana/Shutterstock

ON the back of its success as Asean chair in 2014, Myanmar has continued to position itself as a significant destination for MICE tourism in Southeast Asia.

The country has consequently garnered substantial investment to expand its facilities and infrastructure both in preparation for its Asean commitments and to host other subsequent high-profile events.

This reportedly included US$1.15 billion for hotel development alone.

With this in mind, here’s a closer look at Myanmar’s MICE travel sector and its advancements.

Overview

Much of the country’s MICE activities take place in the capital, Naypyidaw.

As its central business hub, it boasts several purpose-built exhibition halls including the Myanmar International Convention Centers (MICC 1 and 2).

Collectively they offer 87,235sq m of event space, but three additional venues are also available in the city.

Beyond Naypyidaw, the region’s largest city, Yangon offers further facilities including the Tatmadaw Exhibition Hall and the Myanmar Convention Center.

The needs of visitors are comfortably serviced by the growing number of international standard hotels in both cities.

Accommodation – once a problem for the country – now surpasses 50,000 rooms.

Myanmar also benefits from good transport infrastructure, which includes four international airports.

They are serviced by major airlines such as Naypyidaw Air KB2, China Eastern Airlines, Bangkok Airways, and Emirates – connecting the country to 33 cities worldwide.

The rise of Naypyidaw

In recent years, Naypyidaw has been widely promoted as the country’s premier MICE destination.In

In 2015, a dedicated website was launched to facilitate conference planning and encourage tourism to the area.

At the same time, a central organizing office was also established, described as the city’s “one-stop shop” for MICE events.

Beyond marketing and large-scale exhibition facilities like MICC 1 and 2 in place, investment in Naypyidaw has largely been driven towards hotel development.

One of the most significant new builds is the five-star Kempinski Hotel, next to MICC 1.

It opened in 2014 and offers 141 guest bedrooms and six meeting rooms. The largest, the Kispanadi Ballroom, can accommodate up to 400 people.

Other noteworthy debuts are the opening of the Hilton, and Accor’s The Lake Garden M Gallery.

Both are designed with business travelers in mind and provide additional MICE facilities.

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The emergence of Yangon

While the government champions Naypyidaw as a leader of business events, Yangon is overwhelmingly preferred by tourists.

Known as the “Garden of the East”, it is renowned for attractions such as the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda.

Like the capital, it has seen much investment and has begun to rise in the sector as a result.

In 2014, the Myanmar Event Park opened in the city providing an additional 6000sq m of exhibition space – enough room to accommodate 30,000 visitors and 300 booths.

The following year, phase one of the highly anticipated Hoang Anh Gia Lai Myanmar (HAGLM) Center was completed, and work began on phase two in March 2016.

Once finished, the multi-use development will include a shopping mall in addition to hosting the five-star Meliá Hotel which opened on the site in June.

Yangon is also drawing interest from companies looking to partner in the provision of MICE services.

The latest collaboration saw Global DMC, Pacific World, and Myanmar Polestar join forces to set up an on-site MICE team in the city.

Future of business events

Although Naypyidaw is strongly promoted, it is not beyond the realms of possibility for Yangon to one day surpass it in the MICE tourism sector.

With a number of events slated and new openings planned, including the five-star Dusit Thani resort and the DusitD2 complex, Yangon looks set to continue moving forward.

It may need to invest more in attractions and entertainment venues for it to see more traction in the MICE arena.

But one thing does appear certain – Myanmar is committed to advancing MICE tourism in Southeast Asia, and it is most certainly making its mark as a growing force in the industry.

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