Name : Matthew Lloyd
Position : CEO, Yangon Water Bus/Tint Tint Myanmar Co
When was your first visit to Myanmar?
My first visit to Myanmar was earlier this year (2017). At that time, I was in Yangon for just two weeks providing some consultancy services to the Tint Tint Myanmar Group of Companies relating to their bid to launch the Yangon Water Bus.
What was your impression of the country then?
I was instantly attracted to the City. Having not spent much time in Asia previously, I was interested in the cultural differences to my homeland. My first impression was that Yangon was quite a vibrant city full of very warm, welcoming and spiritual people. Upon arrival I was, and I still am, intrigued at the competitiveness in the local market, I have so much respect for the tenacity and resilience of the Myanmar people. I could instantly see that the country was full of intent and opportunities for development.
How did you end up as CEO of the Company?
I met with my now Chairman in Sydney, Australia in late 2016. At the time I was managing the operations of Sydney Ferries. The Chairman (Tint Tint Lwin) and her delegation were in Sydney doing some research on Water Bus operations amongst other things. I met with the Chairman’s group and showed them the critical aspects of our operations such as safety and security management, preventative maintenance systems and vessel navigation and operations. We stayed in contact after this visit and in early 2017 I began doing some consultancy and project work with the company. Once Tint Tint Myanmar Group of Companies was successful in their tender submission I was asked to consider joining the company on a permanent role. This presented a great opportunity for me to share my experience in the maritime transport industry and build a great sustainable business for the people of Yangon for the future.
Please explain to our readers about Tint Tint Myanmar and its different business segments.?
Tint Tint Myanmar Group of Companies (TTMGC) is a very diverse business group. Founded by an inspirational Myanmar lady who has huge ambitions in business and want to contribute toward her local community. TTMGC are predominantly a travel and tourism based business. However over the last 2 years, it has diversified into other sectors such as transport, agriculture and security.
In the travel and tourism industry TTMGC operates luxury accommodation cruises from Bagan to Mandalay; they have hotels in Kalaw, an island resort and private yacht charter businesses down in the Archipelago, and also a travel and tour agency. Other companies in the group include: Yarra Uniforms and Garments, Yangon Water Bus, Tint Tint Energy and Agriculture.
As you can imagine with this portfolio no two days are the same in TTMGC and there is always work to be done.
Recently, Tint Tint Myanmar introduced the water bus in Yangon. Can you update us on the progress?
In October 2017 we launched the first phase of the Yangon Water Bus which provides passenger transport via six locations between Botahtaung and Insein townships. We were blown away with the interest and support of the community in the opening weeks which saw us operating at more or less 100% capacity. Our main objectives in the early stages of business are to operate a safe, reliable and efficient service and to build a solid foundation from which we can grow on. It is for this reason that to begin with we commenced services using only four of our thirteen vessels. This allowed us to place a large and controlled emphasis on training and development of our wonderful staff. Since October we have scaled up to around 7 vessels during the peak hour periods on weekends. At Insein and Hlaing Jetties we are also operating coffeeshops and selling reasonably priced lunchboxes that customers can takeaway.
We are very excited to be introducing additional high-speed vessels on to the service in the near future once registration and the government inspections are finalized. These imported high speed vessels travel at 20 knots and are fitted with the latest in safety technology such as infrared and night vision cameras, GPS, Radar, CCTV, life rafts and fixed firefighting systems. These high-speed vessels are capable of transferring customers between Insein and Botahtaung townships safely in approximately 45 minutes.
We have big expansion plans for the Yangon Water bus which will see us operate on the Pazundung Creek and Pegu River in the Thanlyin region in the very near future.
One of the businesses is the resort island in southern Myanmar. How would you describe the resort?
The Myanmar Andaman Resort located on Macleod Island is a small tropical oasis in the Andaman region west of Kawthaung. The resort consists of 23 bungalows set on a pristine beach surrounded by beautiful turquoise water. As a customer your adventure begins at Kawthaung where you board kayaking, beach picnics, hiking or you can simply take a book and sink into a beach chair under an umbrella and immerse yourself.
I was truly amazed at the natural beauty of the region on my first visit. There is so much potential in this region of Myanmar and I predict it being a significant contributor to the Myanmar economy in the long term if we set sound policy and educate organizations and visitors on how to protect its environment for the future.
For the first time, large cruise liners are anchoring near the island with their passengers visiting the island. How does this arrangement work? What difficulties did you face?
overwhelming. Everyone is very appreciative to be able to visit this region and many are planning on returning for a visit to the island resorts in the near future.
Whilst the guests are on the island they experience some traditional clay pot dancing and get to try some of Myanmar’s traditional foods such as Mohingar and tea leaf salad. Guest also has an opportunity to enjoy the beach and the water sports during their short visit to Myanmar Andaman Resort.
We faced a number of significant challenges during the planning and early implementation phases however with the support of a great team, the local community, an understanding client and a supportive government, we managed to overcome these challenges in order to allow the cruise ships to visit. These challenges included:
- building the capabilities of our own team members and to garnering the support of a cautiously supportive community
- Developing/procuring the necessary infrastructure to support the large number of guest such as 750 snorkel sets, 200 umbrellas and beach chairs just to name a few
- Securing the assistance from all levels of the government who, at times needed to change and adapt their existing procedures to accept customers some 40 miles offshore from the mainland. We still face a few challenges for the future longevity of the project in relation to being financially competitive with other tourist destinations such as Phuket. Our government fees such as departmental charges, taxes and levies are significantly higher than neighboring countries like Thailand and Malaysia, however I am confident that in time we can work through these challenges to ensure a mutually beneficial outcome that ensures Myanmar is a competitive and a sought after tourist destination into the future.
How would you encourage more locals to have holidays on the island instead of the regular beach resorts?
The southern Myanmar Andaman region is a great destination for locals to visit. It is quite accessible with flights and buses to Kawthaung. People have the choice of either staying on the mainland in Kawthaung and venturing out to an Island resort for a day trip or staying on the island for a longer period of time. To experience the true beauty of crystal clear waters you need to venture away from the mainland to the islands. Personally, I find nothing more relaxing and rejuvenating than escaping the fast-pace and congestion of city life for a short island getaway. Snorkeling and kayaking by day and laying on the beach looking up at the stars and listening to the waves lap up on the beach at the night. To further explore a visit to Macleod Island visit www. myanmarandamanresort.com
What are the long term objectives of different businesses that you have been put in charge of?
The long term objective of the Yangon Water bus is very simple. We want to provide a safe, reliable and efficient water bus services that provides the people of Yangon with an option of travelling on the congested roads or utilizing the efficiency of the river. Within the next 12 months we plan to launch phases 2 and 3 of our service delivery which will see us linking downtown with the township of Thanlyin.
For the Myanmar Andaman Resort our objective is to continue to encourage tourists to visit the Andaman region. I’d like to increase our service offering so that we’re competing on the world stage to showcase this beautiful region. There are two steps to this. Firstly, and most importantly we need to deliver an exceptional experience for our guests and further develop our infrastructure and our products, for both our resort and cruise ship guests. Secondly, I’d like to see the Kawthaung airport opened up to accept flights from Bangkok. This would instantly make the region more accessible to foreigners who would increase the market size and allow us to showcase the region and generate further visitation and interest in the tourism industry of Myanmar.
If you could make one major change to any government policy, what would it be?
I actually think that government policy is transforming at an acceptable rate in Myanmar. In these early stages of democracy, I feel that the country needs to ensure it is changing policies at a sustainable rate and allowing the community time to be educated so it can embrace and see the benefit of the changes.
Rather than expediate policy change I would like to see a greater emphasis placed internally on procedure/ s t a n d a r d c r e a t i o n , c o r p o r a t e governance and better utilization of communication technology. I would like to see the government transition into digital communication which will significantly increase productivity efficiency and capability for the future. I believe in procedural and transparent management systems which will provide both the government and the community guidelines to work within and a solid foundation from which it can grow and build upon into the future.