Ministry to halve hotel and tourism licence fees
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.
A tourist photographs puppets in Bagan.