The business of hosting international trade shows and exhibitions is booming in Myanmar, according to Bangkok Exhibition Services Co (BES), which is running eight events there this year reported The Nation on 12 June.
“Myanmar has seen many political and economic reforms in recent years that have led to the easing of international sanctions and the opening of its doors to international trade. As regulatory restrictions are removed and demand for products and services increases, that bring business opportunities to Myanmar,” said Justin Pau, general manager of BES.
However, some challenges lie ahead, such as improving infrastructure, the Internet, and communication systems, he said.
Pau is based in Bangkok but oversees the Myanmar market, especially international trade shows and exhibitions. The company entered Myanmar three years ago, organising a mining-industry event.
Myanmar launched a tourism master plan last year, aiming to attract 7 million visitors by 2020, up from 3.8 million in 2014. However, it could surpass that target as the country is strongly promoting itself overseas as a tourist destination.
One of biggest changes is relaxed entry regulations to allow tourists from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to enter the country without a visa.
Pau said investment in Myanmar's hotel sector had now exceeded Bt80 billion and was expected to top Bt90 billion this year. In 2013, the country had 923 hotels and 1,106 rooms. Those numbers had jumped to 1,186 hotels with 46,614 rooms by last month, mostly in Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake in Shan state.
The country has seen annual economic growth of more than 6 per cent in recent years, with a consequent expansion of its middle-income population. The result of this dynamic growth is a huge expansion of hotels, restaurants, bars, resorts, supermarkets, convenience stores, and retail shops.
Pau said BES last week organised "Food and Hotel Myanmar 2015" in Yangon with 150 participants from 21 countries, including eight international pavilions from Australia, Denmark, Germany, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
The event drew 6,463 visitors from 28 countries, largely from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, China, South Korea, Europe, and the United States.
Pau said BES planned to organise seven more events in Myanmar this year. Propak will be held in September, events showcasing the manufacturing and petroleum industries in October, a communications event in November, and three more that month for mining, construction, and electrical power.
He said the company targeted a total of 20,500 visitors to its Myanmar events this year, including the food and hotel show, up by 10-15 per cent from last year.
To deal with the growing trade-show market in Myanmar, BES plans to establish an office in Yangon next year.