Best Western International has announced plans to open its first hotel in Burma.
The hotel chain has signed a deal to take over management of the Green Hill Hotel, a six-month-old property located in Burma’s largest city, Yangon.
Best Western says it is the first U.S. hotel company to venture into the emerging territory.
The Southeast Asian country, also known as Myanmar, had been closed off to most tourists for years. But two years after the government released Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi from 15 years of house arrest, the tourism industry is booming. A series of government reforms has also facilitated more foreign investment.
A record million visitors traveled to Burma last year, two-thirds of them vacationers. That is expected to increase 30% in 2013. There are now fewer than 800 hotels to accommodate those travelers, and most of them are below international standards.
The Green Hill Hotel will be operated by Best Western International under its mid-scale Best Western brand.
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“There is no doubt that Myanmar is one of the world’s hottest hotel markets at present, with a major increase in new hotel supply needed to cater for a huge influx of guests,” Glenn de Souza, Best Western’s vice president of international operations for Asia and the Middle East, said in a written statement. “So it is vital that hotel owners in the country choose the right partners to ensure optimum performance at their properties.”
Bruce Ford, senior vice president and director of business development at Lodging Econometrics, a hotel real estate consulting firm, said it will take time for Western and U.S. hotel brands to become a large presence in a country that they have been shut out of for so long.
“It will take time to build the supply there because there are not many locations that could be converted,” he said. “Newly constructed hotels may…