Food and Hotel Fair Taps into Myanmar Domestic Market

Myanmar, hotels, restaurants

Fraser Hawkes in conversation with the Myanmar Times (Photo: Myanmar Times)

Food & Hotel Myanmar 2018, an international exhibition for food and hospitality products, is returning for its fifth year to Yangon on June 6-8 at MEP at Mindama Yangon. The event will present products and services from more than 200 leading suppliers and manufacturers coming from 20 countries. In addition, there are also four international pavilions from South Korea, Singapore, Turkey, and the US. 

In an interview with The Myanmar Times, Fraser Hawkes, general manager of UBM Myanmar which organises the exhibition, told The Myanmar Times that he expects more than 7,500 visitors from the food and hospitality sectors to attend the event.

“Food and Hotel Myanmar is focused as a B2B trade exhibition, and it’s for the food, hospitality, retail, and bakery sectors. These industries are obviously growing a lot, not only in Yangon but also throughout the rest of Myanmar linked heavily with tourism but also general consumption and the changing needs of consumers,” Mr Hawkes said.

Myanmar’s tourism industry is showing promise with 3.5 million tourists visiting the country last year, UBM suggested. Tourists from China and Southeast Asia made up 68pc of total visitors, followed by Europeans and Americans at 19pc and 7pc, respectively. As a result, hospitality, restaurant, and service businesses have seen continuous growth in recent years.

Increased tourism has also led to the development of Myanmar’s 1,575 hotels (with a total 63,336 rooms), and brought food and hospitality businesses to the country.

“With international tourism, the arrival of foreigners into Myanmar, I think we’ve had a challenging 12 months. Obviously there are a lot of things being discussed around the world at the moment for Myanmar. Both from a business-investment point of view and a tourism point of view, that damages the number of arrivals that will come. But what has been the most positive thing about tourism in Myanmar is domestic tourism,” Mr Hawkes continued.

Rise in domestic tourism reveals that earning capacity and the disposable income of the local population has increased. Myanmar has 53 million people and that is “a very big number of potential domestic tourists”.

“There has been a very strong increase in domestic tourism in Myanmar and that is important because it does show how the spending power of the country is improving. A lot people focus on the arrival of internationals when they talk about tourism and sometimes forget about the importance of domestic tourism,” he explained. International tourism are still a challenge right now and is heavily linked to food and beverage. For example, the issue of food safety affects the reputation of a country extensively. This is where foreign expertise can play an important role.

Additionally, the commerce ministry’s recent liberalisation of the retail and wholesale sector will help drive down the pricing for consumers, and international retailers coming in will “force the local standards to improve”, ultimately supporting the hotel and restaurant industries.

Several activities to promote Myanmar’s food and hospitality sectors will be held concurrently with Food and Hotel Myanmar, including a culinary arts contest, the fifth Myanmar National Barista Championship, a food safety seminar and a butchery masterclass.

(Source: the Myanmar Times)