IFC lends to limbo hotel
A developer of a Bagan “limbo hotel” is set to get a boost with the help of a loan from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.
ONE of Bagan’s “limbo hotels” is to be expanded with the help of a loan from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.
The IFC has lent US$13.5 million to United International Group, which owns Amata Hotel Group, to extend its properties in Bagan and Inle Lake, U Win Aung, managing director of United International Group, has told The Myanmar Times.
United International Group and the IFC signed the loan agreements, which have a 10-year repayment period at international standard interest rates, on October 22 at Amata Boutique House Hotel in Bagan, he said.
“We will extend our two properties with the help of the IFC,” he said.
The IFC describes itself as the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector, “helping developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilising capital in the international financial markets”.
The Bagan property, which is intended to have 144 rooms, has been listed as one of the 42 hotels where the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library has suspended construction pending a decision on their status, U Win Aung said.
The long-running “limbo hotels” problem arose when the 42 hoteliers were cleared to build in Bagan by the archaeology department in 2013, but subsequently ordered to stop work and not to take in guests.
The guesthouses, mostly modest establishments run by local residents, are deemed too close to Bagan’s famed temples, a factor that could put at risk the city’s bid to be included in UNESCO’s World Heritage listing. Mandalay Region MPs have discussed recommending changes to a 1998 law so as to clarify the status of the hotels, some of which are still under construction.
The Inle Lake property will expand from 70 to 130 rooms, said U Win Aung. “Now we’re awaiting permission from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture to continue construction. Both will be internationalstandard five-star hotels,” he said.
Amata will introduce their second “Awinka” brand in 10 cities, including Hpa-an, Mawlamyine, Loikaw, Pindaya, Ngapali, Ngwe Saung, Nyaung Shwe, Pyin Oo Lwin and Kalaw, as budget hotels aimed mainly at local residents, said U Win Aung.
“But the quality will not be reduced even though room rates will range from $40 to $50 for the same standard of room,” he said, adding that the 10 new hotels would be opened in 2018 or 2019. The firm will also develop high-end resorts in the Myeik archipelago, Tanintharyi Region.
“We’ve already got permission from the Myanmar Investment Commission to develop island 20- to 25room resorts at Myeik starting this year,” he said. In an October 22 press release visiting IFC executive vice president and CEO Philippe Le Houérou said that the loan was a boost to Myanmar’s tourism industry.
“Tourism, as a leading driver of economic growth and job creation, can play a major role in poverty reduction in Myanmar, particularly for women and young people,” he was quoted in the statement. “But, for this to happen, the sector must be developed in a sustainable manner.”
The release did not mention the status of the “limbo” hotel and the IFC did not return a request for comment on the issue by press time yesterday.
‘We’re awaiting permission from the Ministry ... to continue construction.’
U Win Aung United International Group
Tourists take a horse-drawn cart at Bagan.