The Myanmar Times reports that Chin State in Northwestern Myanmar will soon become more accessible to travellers and investors this year when the region’s first airport opens for business.
The Surbung Airport in Falam township, Chin State, will open in late May, according to state media, barring unforeseen weather conditions. The move is expected to boost tourism in Myanmar’s most underdeveloped state.
The K37 billion airport project will link Chin to seven other states in Myanmar which have been equipped with at least one airport.
Originally planned to be completed in 2022, construction of Surbung Airport, which began in 2015, was accelerated under direct instructions from State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint last January.
Located at the northern Chin of Falam, Surbung Airport sits on the Surbung mountain range, 1,830 metres above the sea level, and will feature a 1,830-meter-long and 30-meter-wide runway to handle ATR-72 aircraft.
The mountainous landscape has made Chin a difficult region to visit, rendering it the least developed state in Myanmar with the lack of infrastructure.
With the opening of the airport, the government expects to see more tourists take an interest in Chin State, home to the heart-shaped Rih Lake and Nat Ma Taung National Park.
It will also draw more investors to Chin at a time when efforts to boost growth in the state are on the rise. Last year, the Chin State Investment and Product Fair were held in Yangon to help potential investors understand both existing and untapped areas of investment in Chin, including farming, power generation, hotels and tourism and infrastructure.
Due to its inaccessibility, up until last year, there were only a handful of local hotel businesses operating and no foreign investments in the state.
Consequently, Chin State is among the least developed regions in the country, with the 2017 Myanmar Living Conditions Survey showing that almost 60pc of the population lives in poverty.
Excluding Surbung, the Chin State government is also making plans to build smaller airports in Tiddim, Tonzang, Falam and Hakha townships, The Myanmar Times understands.
Myanmar has three international airports and 58 domestic ones, of which only 31 are currently in operation.
(Source: The Myanmar Times)