Tourism companies still accepting USD

Tourism-related companies say they are still accepting US dollar cash payments as normal, despite a Central Bank decision to revoke foreign currency acceptor and holder licences last week.

The Central Bank statement, published on October 13, recalled foreign exchange licences held by all companies except banks and money changers – including airlines, hotels and tour operators.

Licences must be handed back by the end of November. The rule prohibits companies from accepting US dollar cash payments.

Foreign currency card and online payments are not forbidden, but many small tourism-related firms do not have the necessary technology for this.

Owners of tourism-related companies told The Myanmar Times that business is continuing as normal, and they are still collecting US dollars in cash for plane tickets and hotel bookings. Some said they have not been notified of the change, and that they are confused by the Central Bank statement. Others were unaware that a notice had even been issued.

Ma Khin Naing Maw, senior tour operator at Unique Asia Travel and , said that if she is told to make the switch, she will do it.

“There is no official letter from the tourism sector; they have given no instructions. If the news was true, they would issue instructions on how to proceed,” said U Hla Aye, managing director at Shan Yoma Travel and Tour Company.

U Tin Aye, chair of the Myanmar Hotelier Association in Yangon, said the industry body has no plans to issue a separate letter. “The statement is there for all to see – there will be no other letter,” he said.

Among those who know about the change in policy, many fear it will be bad for business.

“If we work only in Myanmar kyat, it will result in some difficult situations,” said Ko Aung Soe Thu, a customer care officer from Asia Travel and Leisure Company.

“Say the cost of a tourist visit is US$20. If we have to charge in kyat, and we have a tour group of 60 people, we’ll have to carry around a huge bag of money,” he said.

Having to calculate the exchange rate at every step will add to the headache, he said. “This is tourist season, so tour companies will find this statement difficult.”

Ma Ohnn Mar, finance manager at Exotic Myanmar Travel and Tour Company, said she would continue to charge in dollars until she had received official instruction not to. “We don’t know whether it will be a problem, because we haven’t noticed any changes yet. Airlines and other companies are still accepting US dollars,” she said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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