New lim­its on tour op­er­a­tors to be dis­cussed in Hlut­taw Oct 17

The Myanmar Times - - News - EI EI THU eiei­thu@mm­times.com

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.

Photo: EPA

A woman sells hats for tourists on the banks of the Aye­yarwady in Hton Bo town­ship, Pyay, Bago Re­gion, on Fe­bru­ary 12.

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