Shan State govt tar­gets il­le­gal tourism op­er­a­tors

The Myanmar Times - - News - Kyawkoko@mm­times.com KYAW KO KO

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

Photo: Dou­glas Long

Boats wait for tourist groups at Inle Lake.

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