Centara Hotels celebrates Myanmar entry

22 September 2019
Centara Hotels celebrates Myanmar entry
This aerial photo taken from a hot air balloon shows a hot air balloon flying over traditional houses on stilts on Inle lake in Shan State. Photo: Ye Aung Thu/AFP

Centara Hotels and Resorts is set to expand into Myanmar through a hotel management agreement with KMA Group, a subsidiary of Kaung Myanmar Aung Group of Companies, to operate Centara KMA Resort Inle Lake.

The 95-room hotel is located on the shores of Inle Lake, one of the key landmarks of central Myanmar. It is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of this year.

Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive of Centara Hotels and Resorts, said the partnership with KMA will benefit tourism in both Thailand and Myanmar.

Of the 3.5 million foreigners visiting Myanmar a year, 200,000 are Thais. He is confident the agreement will help push the number of tourists noticeably higher.

After signing the agreement on Thursday, Khin Maung Aye, chairman of KMA Group, called it the first step of a strong relationship.

"The partnership will surely contribute to hospitality and tourism for both countries in the long run," he said.

Centara plans to operate five more hotels in Myanmar with KMA Group.

Kaung Htet Tun, managing director of KMA Group, said the group operates eight properties in Myanmar, including the five-star Royal Kaytumadi Hotel in Taungoo.

He said the group selected Centara because of similarities in vision. KMA sees the deal as a step to raising international exposure.

Kaung Htet Tun voiced optimism about tourism potential in Myanmar, as infrastructure has improved and international air links have expanded.

KMA Group, founded in 1992, is a conglomerate spanning 32 companies with interests in real estate, trading, aviation, logistics, financial services and the hospitality sector.

KMA Hotels plans to double the number of properties over the next several years.

Centara Hotels and Resorts, the hotel segment operated by SET-listed Central Plaza Hotel (Centel), reported revenue of 4.75 billion baht for the hotel business in the first six months this year, down 6.5% year-on-year. The company attributed the dip to the slow tourism industry, with falling tourist arrivals from China and Russia.

The company forecasts revenue from hospitality business to stay flat or slightly drop to 8 billion baht this year from 9.3 billion baht in 2018.

Mr Thirayuth said the overall tourism situation should improve in the last quarter, which is the high season, when forward bookings are expected to improve.

He remains hopeful that the number of Chinese tourists will increase during Golden Week in October and through November.

Centara Hotels and Resorts has 75 hotel properties and expects to operate 134 upon completing its five-year strategic plan.

The company is in the second year of the plan, aiming to spend 20 billion baht to increase the number of properties and renovate existing ones.

Once the strategic plan is fulfilled, the company expects revenue to rise to 20 billion baht a year from 9.3 billion baht last year.

Courtesy of Bangkok Post