Min­istry to halve ho­tel and tourism li­cence fees

The Myanmar Times - - Business - EI EI THU eiei­thu@mm­times.com

THE Min­istry of Ho­tels and Tourism will cut li­cence fees by 50 per­cent from Oc­to­ber, to sup­port the coun­try’s nascent tourism in­dus­try, di­rec­tor gen­eral U Tint Th­win told The Myan­mar Times.

“All li­cence fees will be re­duced by half from Oc­to­ber 1, the sec­ond half of the fi­nan­cial year. We are also plan­ning to stream­line doc­u­men­ta­tion for ap­pli­cants to pro­mote an in­crease in the num­ber of op­er­a­tors in the in­dus­try,” he said on July 22 dur­ing a meet­ing with in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tions in Yan­gon.

A ho­tel li­cence now costs be­tween K200,000 and K1.9 mil­lion de­pend­ing on the size of the project; a tour com­pany li­cence costs K400,000; a tour guide li­cence costs K50,000; and a tourist trans­porta­tion li­cence costs be­tween K50,000 and K500,000.

Tourism ex­pert U Aung Myat Kyaw said he sup­ported the de­ci­sion, adding that he hoped the min­istry would re­move a pol­icy re­quir­ing ev­ery op­er­a­tor to be­come a mem­ber of a tourism as­so­ci­a­tion.

To ap­ply for a new li­cence or re­new an ex­ist­ing one, tour com­pa­nies need a rec­om­men­da­tion let­ter from the Union of Myan­mar Travel As­so­ci­a­tion, while hote­liers must be a mem­ber of the Myan­mar Hote­liers As­so­ci­a­tion, he said.

“That is the pol­icy of the min­istry. Un­der the so­cial­ist regime peo­ple were forced to sign up to as­so­ci­a­tions, but it shouldn’t be like that now that Myan­mar is a democ­racy,” he said.

“As for me, I am pleased that the min­istry will sup­port small and medium en­ter­prises in the tourism in­dus­try, but I would like to know more about how the li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion process will be changed.”

U Tint Th­win said the pol­icy was in­tended to boost mem­ber­ship at the as­so­ci­a­tions, unite the tourism in­dus­try and help the min­istry to keep track of which tour com­pa­nies were ac­tive.

Tour guides have wel­comed the de­ci­sion to cut fees. A 50pc re­duc­tion in li­cence fees will make a big dif­fer­ence to new guides, as many strug­gle to raise the cur­rent charge of K50,000, Ma Swe Zin Oo, sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Myan­mar Tourist Guides As­so­ci­a­tion, told The Myan­mar Times.

“We are pleased about this be­cause ex­ist­ing fees make it very hard for new guides who are just start­ing out in tourism. Half of this amount – K25,000 – will be much more af­ford­able for them,” she said.

How­ever, she said, guides and tour op­er­a­tors also have to pay an an­nual tax at their lo­cal town­ship of­fice be­fore they can re­new their li­cence, but the tax­a­tion pol­icy varies from town­ship to town­ship, even within the same re­gion.

Some town­ships col­lect a 10pc in­come tax, but oth­ers charge up to 50pc, Ma Swe Zin Oo said.

“This is how it has been in the past. We all want to pay tax to help de­velop our demo­cratic coun­try but we hope for the same tax­a­tion pol­icy for all tour guides in the coun­try.”

By the end of May the Min­istry of Ho­tels and Tourism had is­sued 1351 ho­tel op­er­a­tor li­cences, 2130 li­cences for tour com­pa­nies, 6309 for guides and 536 for tourist trans­porta­tion com­pa­nies.

Photo: Thiri Lu

A tourist pho­to­graphs pup­pets in Ba­gan.

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