ANGON, 9 February 2015: Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism says the government will begin issuing licenses for outbound tour operators starting this month.
The ministry director, Myo Win Nyunt, told the Irrawaddy media that the ministry issued the regulations for outbound tour companies 1 February.
It means that travel companies can now apply for licenses to offer overseas trips for Myanmar nationals.
According to the new regulations, local operators would be able to legally partner with foreign companies. It would involve foreign exchange payments as local travel firms would need to pay overseas partners and hotels for land content and accommodation.
“Many citizens are travelling overseas for medical treatment, tourism and other reasons. But local travel agencies don’t have the authority to offer overseas travel. Now customers will have legal guarantees and can complain if companies provide poor service,” the director said.
Most of the companies expanding into the outbound market will already have their inbound licenses and have a solid track record in tourism services. Very few start-up companies will go into the outbound travel on an exclusive basis as the market is too small, but for companies that already have inbound operations they may decided to open a subsidiary to sell outbound travel.
According to Irrawaddy, the 1993 Tourism Law, which remains in effect despite growing momentum towards a legislative overhaul, subjects local tour operators and hoteliers to a strict operating framework.
But this is now changing as the Ministry of Tourism and Hotels reviews regulations.
Eligible tour companies will need to show they have been in business for at least two years and prove bank deposits of at least 10 million USD9,700 to cover potential legal liabilities.
The regulation is needed for both companies and customers, so that customers can seek legal redress if they encounter problems during their travels, Union of Myanmar Travel Association joint secretary Tin Tun Aung explained.
The biennial license fee for tour operators currently stands at USD388, with over 1,600 companies registered for inbound and domestic tour operations.