This week, we will focus our attention on the last recent economic developments in Burma:
What works and what are the pitfalls to avoid?
In this blog, we have already emphasized the opening and expansion of Burma, following the political reforms that occurred in Burma last year. And from this perspective, one cannot fail to note that tourism is one of the most-coveted fields.
Indeed, for instance, “Visa is preparing to introduce its credit card payment system to Burma by early 2013 by partnering with 17 local private banks whose owners are no longer barred by US sanctions“.
That is a significant step forwards the growth of tourism, to meet the expectations of tourists who come increasingly to visit Burma, either for pleasure or business. However, operating this system as effectively as possible is certainly not straightforward: “there are only a small number of ATM machines across the country at the present time, with most run by banks which are owned by tycoons on the US blacklist”. Visa Group Country will have to provide, as soon as possible, a basic ATM network through the country. Moreover, as “more than 98 percent Burmese people currently rely exclusively on cash”, locals will surely need to be educated regarding this electronic payment system and its benefits.
Nonetheless, to the extent that the development of tourism in Burma is just now truly taking off, it is still a very sensitive topic where business companies do not want to miss the boat but remain cautious in their positions.
Indeed, as an example, “Top Hotels brands coy on Burma ventures“.
As stated in this article, leading hotels brands are reluctant to disclose what will be their next moves in Burma’s hospitality market: “Of the ten luxury hotel companies contacted by The Irrawaddy, one is already present, two admitted interest in coming to Burma, four have no immediate plans and three declined to comment”. “Brenda Yeo, of Sofitel Luxury Hotels, said, “I’m afraid we don’t have any upcoming plans in Myanmar in the short term and so do not have a timeline or roadmap to discuss this as yet.” As the hotel industry will be at the core of the competition in the near future, this cautiousness about investing could be explained by the need to upgrade existing tourist sites, e.g., the standards of services of the current hotels.
Let’s conclude the economic news with a somewhat controversial disclosure: “General Electric Co agreed on Monday to lease two Embraer SA-made jets to Myanmar Airlines“. The controversy relates to the profits involved and the rights of locals if, as stated in the article, the “vast majority of Burma’s airlines and airports will be privatised”. As the Democratic Voice of Burma reports: “The Burmese junta has sold off swathes of state-owned property, including banks, ports, and high-end buildings, to private businesses, many of whom are believed to have close ties to the generals”.
Dear readers, here is the winner of our EcoBurma writing contest: with the Jury Prize!
Last but not least, an article that could be useful for some of our readers: Traveling while pregnant: 6 tips that make it easy!
For the author, being pregnant “may determine where you go and when – but it doesn’t mean you need to stop traveling”. She is pleased to uncover advices that “will make traveling while pregnant a breeze”: Check your health insurance policy, be prepared, buy travel insurance, pick a friendly pregnancy location, check airlines and cruises policies, get comfortable… etc.
We hope that those of you who are expecting will enjoy reading this worthwhile article!
See you next week!