Monday, December 19, 2011

Naypyitaw to open to tourists

Monday, 19 December 2011 17:49 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) – Foreign tourists are expected to be allowed to visit Naypyitaw, Burma’s new administrative capital, in 2012, the Xinhua news agency said Monday.

Citing an article in the Burmese-language Myanmar Post, the newspaper quoted the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism on the expected change.

Government buildings in Burma's new capital of Naypyitaw. Photo: Mizzima

So far, ordinary foreigners have been denied access to Naypyitaw except for those with business visas or for investment purposes, and then their visit was confined to a short stay.

Local tourism-related businesses have proposed the government grant tourism visas for foreigners in light of Burma’s hosting the coming 2013 Southeast Asian Games and 2014 Asean Summit.

The hotel zone in the new capital has 24 hotels with 1,600 rooms, said tourism sources.

A report said that since Naypyitaw is in the strategic center of Burma, a tourist could easily take off for other parts of the country, potentially making the capital a major tourist destination.

Located near the Bago Yoma mountain range and close to the Shan State plateau in the east, the capital lies 390 kilometres from Rangoon, the former capital in the south, and 300 kilometres from the cultural city of Mandalay in the north.

Former junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe moved the new capital from Rangoon in late 2005. The capital is made up of eight townships with an area of 7,054 square-km, which is nine times the area of Rangoon. It has a population of more than 900,000. Nationalities in the area are mainly Burma, Shan, Danu, Palaung, Pa-Oh, Kachin, Kayah and Kayin.

Following the inauguration of the Rangoon-Naypyitaw-Mandalay north-south highway in December 2010, roads connecting the once isolated capital have been improved.

A large sculpture-garden area on a roadway in Naypyitaw, Burma's new capital. Photo: Mizzima

Xinhua reported the new international airport in Naypyitaw was inaugurated on Monday on the occasion of the 4th Summit of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation Program (GMS). It is Burma’s third international airport next to Rangoon and Mandalay.

Naypyitaw is organized into a number of zones. As of 2011, the city still lacked many of the facilities one would expect in a capital city.

The residential areas are carefully organized, and government apartments are allotted according to rank and marital status, according to Wikipedia. The city has more than 1,000 four-story apartment blocks. The roofs of apartment buildings are color-coded by the jobs of their residents. High-ranking government officials live in mansions, of which there are about 50. Many of the city's residents, however, live in slums.

High-ranking military officers and other key officials live 11 kilometres away from regular government employees in a complex said to consist of tunnels and bunkers.

All of the buildings in the city's government ministry zone are identical in appearance. A traditionally designed Burmese parliamentary complex has 31 buildings and a 100-room presidential palace.

The Hotel zone has villa-style hotels that dot the hills on the outskirts of the city.

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