Shan State govt targets illegal tourism operators
TOURISM authorities are planning a big shake-up in southern Shan State, cracking down on hotels and transportation companies offering tourism services without a licence. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in the state says it will take legal action against offenders.
The ministry wants to develop tourism in Shan State, and has already announced that various fees for tourism-related licences will be halved. The state government is to launch an investigation on October 20 to identify erring companies. They delayed the operation until then so as not to clash with the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival in Inle, the ministry’s assistant director, U Win Aung said on October 17.
“The state government had already agreed to investigate, starting October 20, in southern Shan State to see if companies offering tourism services hold one of the four types of licence required. Illegal hotels and tour transportation vehicles will be targeted. The point is to promote the long-term development of the tourist industry by ensuring that travel agencies run their businesses systematically.”
The investigation will cover hotels and lodging-houses, travel and tour companies both domestic and foreign, transportation, and guide qualifications. Those found to be operating without a licence will face action under the law.
“Tourist transportation vehicle number plates should come in red and blue, but some drivers do not possess the correct plates. Municipal guesthouses have been allowing foreign guests to stay, which is against the rules,” said U Win Aung, adding that this was the first such wide-scale investigation to be launched.
In May, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism warned that tour guides found without a licence could end up behind bars for up to three years. The government cited complaints from licenced guides, who said their untrained counterparts were undercutting the profession and driving down profits. And, after a landmine blast in April at Kyaukme, Shan State, injured two foreign trekkers and an unofficial local guide, experts said the lack of training and licensing could be dangerous.
The ministry said that as of August it had granted licences to 173 hotels, offering 4837 rooms, 581 regional guides and 96 international guides, and 1017 passenger motor boats, as well as issuing 15 blue number plates and 135 red plates in southern Shan State.
Sai Win, chair of Myanmar Tourist Guide Association in Nyaungshwe, Shan State, welcomed the move, saying, “Travel operations will be more systematic. Transportation in particular should be better regulated.”
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism announced on September 21 that fees for the replacement or renewal of licences and registering a change of name or address would be reduced by half from October 1.
– Translation by San Layy
Boats wait for tourist groups at Inle Lake.