Myanmar’s tourism law under scrutiny

Myanmar new tourism law will be submitted to Parliament, later this year, with the legislation giving provincial authorities more power over tourism development.

The text of the law is to be circulated for comments to the tourism industry before being finalised, but operators say they have not seen the draft.

Ministry of Hotels and Tourism director, U Tint Wai, told Myanmar Times that the new law would replace outdated clauses in existing legislation, which was enacted 20 years ago.

“For example, the fine for infractions [in the old law] is only K5,000 (USD4.49),” he said.

The new law will also simplify the process of getting government permission for tourism activities.

“States and regions have to seek permission from the Union government for any changes, which is a source of delay,” the director said.

He added that the Attorney-General’s department will review 52-sections of the draft law based on suggestions from international organisations over definitions. The ministry will consider input from tour operators and then submit the law to Parliament. So far, tour operators say they have not been able to provide any feedback.

“We also accepted suggestions from the Myanmar Tourism Federation that will help us to achieve international standards and improve tour operator functions.”

However, Nature Dream travel and tours representative, Daw Sabei Aung, was quoted as saying tour operators were in the dark about the law’s content.

“The private sector wants to work with the ministry to ensure the law is up to international standards. We want to know what is in the draft before it is formally submitted to parliament, but the ministry hasn’t shared it with us yet.”

“We also don’t know which international organisations are helping with the law,” she said.

But she said operators welcomed efforts to improve the legal framework for the industry, and urged the government to stick to the published Tourism Master Plan, released in 2013.

Tourism is one of the top five priority sectors in Myanmar to boost the economy. Last year, the country attracted 3.08 million visits increasing 50.73% from 2.04 million in 2013. Tourism generated an estimated USD1,789 million in revenue compared to USD926 million in 2013.

 

Source: TTR weekly

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