The government has approved the upgrade of a local airport in Thandwe, Rakhine State to international status, said U Kyaw Aye Thein, Rakhine State Planning and Finance Minister.
The decision was made at the Union level after the Rakhine State Government submitted the request to upgrade, he said.
The authorities were responding to private sector demand for the airport to be able to receive international flights from Europe. “Many investors and businessmen from Europe want to travel directly to Ngapali for meetings with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and other promotional events,” U Kyaw Aye Thein said.
He added that with more direct international flights able to land in Thandwe, opportunities for Rakhine tourism would spike, supporting state efforts to draw more tourists to the state.
“Job opportunities will emerge on the back of further development of the tourism sector, leading to economic growth and regional stability,” he said.
Of the 31 local airports in Myanmar, proposals to upgrade and renovate 14 for the purpose of bettering tourism were submitted and approved over the past three years.
Last month, the Department of Civil Aviation started a tender process for the upgrading of Kawthoung airport in Tanintharyi Region and is now calling for requests for proposals.
Kawthoung airport is one of 14 airports earmarked for upgrades to promote tourism and boost regional development. It was among the first three to be chosen for the upgrades, the others being Heho airport in Shan State and Mawlamyine airport in Mon State.
The upgrades would involve setting up customs, immigration and quarantine facilities in the first stage and then bringing in other facilities to raise it to international status in the second stage.
The KBZ Group won the tender for Heho airport, where the investment has been estimated at US$40 million. The company would invest 65pc, with the remainder to be invested by Japan’s Toyota Tsusho Co. The US$20 million upgrade of
Mawlamyine airport would be undertaken by Hinthar Group and Bangkok Aviation Services Enterprise.
Renovation work will also begin this year at Nyaung-U airport in Bagan to enable it to handle more passengers in the wake of the ancient city being declared a World Heritage site. – Translated
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