New limits on tour operators to be discussed in Hluttaw Oct 17
A NEW Myanmar tourism draft law suggests for the limitation of tour operators’ license to regulate large companies benefitting from foreign investment and joint venture companies to the benefit of local businesses.
This new draft law will be discussed at the Amyotha Hluttaw on October 17.
The Union of Myanmar Travel Association and representatives from other travel-related associations organised a meeting to compile final suggestions on October 11 in Yangon.
“We only asked for specific tour operators’ license to be limited. These big companies which have access to foreign investment reap all the benefits from the industry.
“Small and medium travel companies can’t compete with foreign investment or joint venture company. If they limit the license for such tour companies, our local tour companies will make more money,” U Hla Shwe, managing director of Dandaryi Travel and Tours company told The Myanmar Times on Wednesday.
Concerning the new foreign investment law, companies can apply directly to regional or state government if their investment is under US$5 million and ask for authorisation from Union government if it exceeds $5 million in investment.
However, the government should be mindful to allow for the kind of foreign investments which benefits the country, even once foreign business in Myanmar stops, said U Thet Lwin Toh, chair of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association.
“Some small and medium tour companies are worried about the impact on their businesses should license be issued to companies with foreign investments. Therefore, some tour operators suggest considering to protection of national interests. I think they will negotiate in Hluttaw on the matter,” he explained.
There are currently over 2000 licensed tour operators out of which 40 are joint ventures. There also are tours operators with illegal foreign investments, hence the need for systematic regulation, he added.
The government enacted the Myanmar Hotel and Tourism Law in 1993 which proves outdated, especially with regards to fines and punishments. The new Myanmar Tourism Law has been fighting its way up since 2015.
The new proposal suggests up to three years imprisonment, K30 million in fine or both for breaking the law.
“The commission in charge of the bill confirmed that they will have a draft in time for the Hluttaw session this year. If possible they will be discussing by-laws in March 2018,” said U Thet Lwin Toh.
A woman sells hats for tourists on the banks of the Ayeyarwady in Hton Bo township, Pyay, Bago Region, on February 12.