The company, which earlier this year disclosed that it would spearhead four new tourism projects in the largely untouched Mergui Archipelago, said this week that it was revising those plans. The first project, at Kadan, will break ground in March of next year, Kyaw Myo Paing told The Irrawaddy on Monday.
Under its initial proposal, the Myeik Public Corporation was eyeing four islands—Khuntee (or Gabuza) Island, Eastern Sula Island, Langan Island and Tanintharyi Island—but the firm has since shifted its gaze toward Kadan, the archipelago’s largest island. Kadan lies some 15 miles west of Myeik, a coastal town on the Burmese mainland that serves as the region’s commercial hub.
“Our latest plan is to start our project on Kadan Island. The local authority is now checking the details of our plan. We do expect they will allow us to build a resort on Kadan Island first,” he said.
He added that a second development was slated for Khuntee Island, as originally planned, and a third at Saw Mon Hla Island. The plan will see hotels, houses, golf courses and shops built on the three islands, which are largely deserted at present but could be ready to take in tourists by 2018.
“We’ll invest US$4 million just for Kadan Island, because it’s the nearest island from Myeik, only a 45-minute boat ride there,” Kyaw Myo Paing said, adding that the project was expected to take four years to complete.
“We expect that many foreign tourists will come to relax in this area through Maw Daung [a border trading station with Thailand] in Tanintharyi [Tenasserim] Division,” he said. Maw Daung is expected to be fully operational within the year, and some trading activities are already taking place on the Burma side of the border.
The Mergui Archipelago consists of more than 800 islands across an area of 10,000 square miles in Burma’s far south. While currently difficult and expensive to visit, the area, also known as the Myeik Archipelago, is tipped to become a major tourist destination as Burma welcomes more foreign tourist arrivals. The archipelago is listed as a priority area for development under a Tourism Master Plan put out by the government last year.
Aung Myat Kyaw, the chairman of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association and an adviser to Burma’s Tourism Marketing Committee, said he agreed that after the Maw Daung border station was operational, the archipelago was likely to see more tourists, especially divers traveling from neighboring Thailand.
“Mostly, visitors go there through Ranong [Thailand]. There needs to be a better transportation system in place in that area, because if visitors go there via Rangoon, it takes time and a lot of money. A better transport system is needed—for example, regular flights there,” he said.
source: The Irrawaddy