Hilton Hotels remain upbeat about Myanmar as a growth market within its South East Asia operations on the back of the country's positive tourism outlook, according to a press release.
The global hotel company, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, has expressed confidence in both leisure and business travel segments in Myanmar as the Tourism Ministry reported close to 2.5 million foreign visitor arrivals into the country in the first half of this year: a 26% year-on-year increase from 2018.
The Hilton Hotel group says recent developments such as the easing of visa policies for travelers, the country's new tourism campaign and the naming of the ancient city of Bagan as a UNESCO World Heritage Site are all expected to contribute to increasing Myanmar's appeal as a travel destination.
Mr. Peter Webster, regional general manager for Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia at Hilton, indicated a positive growth outlook by Hilton encouraged by the Asian Development Bank's forecasted growth of 6.6% in Myanmar's economy this year.
"Overall we see more investments and increased market confidence in the government's accelerated economic reforms, with the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration reporting more than US$3.5 billion in foreign direct investments pumped into the country as of the end of July. As an international hotel company welcoming guests from within Myanmar and all over the world, this is heartening news for us as we look for the right opportunities to expand our brands across a number of destinations in Myanmar with the right partners," Webster said.
Having first entered Myanmar as one of the first international hotels in the country with the opening of Hilton Nay Pyi Taw in 2014, Hilton has since grown its presence with the launch of Hilton Ngapali Resort and Spa, followed by Hilton Mandalay just two years ago. Recognising the potential of Myanmar as a travel destination, with seven million tourist arrivals expected by 2020, Hilton is set to continue its expansion across the country.
Regional manager Webster said their growth strategy in the region has always been to identify the right partners and opportunities at the right time, and to bring brands that cater to the expanding range of travel interests and preferences.
“We are delighted to have kicked off our centennial this year with the announcement of a partnership with Crown Advance Construction Co., Ltd to bring our flagship Hilton brand to Yangon as the city advances towards being one of the leading investment hubs in Southeast Asia," added Webster.
In January 2019, Hilton signed a management agreement with Myanmar partners Crown Advanced Construction Co., Ltd. to operate Hilton Times City Yangon. The 308-key hotel opening in 2021 will signal Hilton's entry into the country's commercial and financial center.
Strategically located between Yangon International Airport and the central business district, Hilton Times City Yangon is set to be top of mind for business and leisure travelers. The hotel will be surrounded by embassies, shopping centers, restaurants, international business offices, and within a short distance to top tourist attractions including the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda, parks and garden lakes, as well as the heritage buildings and vibrant night markets of downtown Yangon.
"The Times City project is a landmark mixed-use development that reflects Crown's vision to create a sophisticated urban district in Yangon. Hilton Times City Yangon fits suitably into this vision and will be all set to deliver exceptional guest experiences that the brand is renowned for when it opens in three years," Webster added.
The Hilton Hotel group is committed to hotel management training.
Part of the 100-year-old company's plan as it continues its growth trajectory globally is to positively impact the communities in which it operates - aptly coined "The Hilton Effect" by U.S. professor and author Chip Heath. In Myanmar, Hilton set up the Hilton Vocational Training Center in 2015 in partnership with Myanmar's Ministry of Hotels and Tourism to provide training to young Myanmar talent who are keen to build a career in hospitality. The second batch of students will be graduating this September, and the company is expected to welcome its third intake in the final quarter of this year.
In addition to developing local talent and redefining sustainable travel, Hilton Nay Pyi Taw will be the first hotel in Asia Pacific to host the United States Embassy's liaison office from 2020. The U.S. liaison office at Hilton Nay Pyi Taw will serve as the official presence of the U.S. government in the capital, facilitating increased engagement between U.S. diplomats and the government of Myanmar. The opening of the U.S. liaison office further demonstrates the long-term commitment of the United States to its bilateral relationship with Myanmar.