Tourism ministry to cut admin charges in half to spur growth
THE Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is cutting administrative charges it levies on operators of tourism-related business in half, in order to promote more foreign investment into the sector and more foreign visitors to Myanmar.
A list of updated administrative costs will be released on October 1, affecting operators of hotels and guest houses, tour companies, tourism-related transportation services and tour guides, U San Yu, assistant director at the tourism ministry in Mandalay told The Myanmar Times. The cost of a host of business activities - including renewing a licence, altering the name of business or moving location - will be cut by 50 percent, he added.
The intention is to help draw more foreign visitors to Myanmar by allowing the tourism sector to expand and provide more services, he said. “There were a lot of reductions [in administrative charges] in previous years, but there is still not [enough] foreign investment in travel operations,” he said.
Myanmar’s tourism ministry has also made it easier for travel businesses to receive a licence by allowing online applications since July 1. But lower charges are unlikely to placate concerned tourism entrepreneurs asking the government for a more favourable business environment. Tour guides, for example, are facing competition from unlicensed operators that do not face the same tax treatment or licence payments, U Ye Myat Tun, chair of the Mandalay Tour Guide Association, told The Myanmar Times.
“It is good to cut the charges by 50pc and that will help us develop travel operations,” he said. “But tour guides like us still have to pay a high rate of tax, and we need relevant departments to help ban illegal tour guides from operating.”
The tourism ministry in Mandalay has granted licences to 1279 tour guide operations, 115 travel companies and 183 hotels, according to ministry data.
‘There is still not [enough] foreign investment in travel operations.’
U San Yu Tourism ministry
A monk walks through a field near a temple in Bagan, one of Myanmar’s most popular tourist destinations.