Ministry to license domestic pilgrimage tour operators

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism will issue a one-year license to domestic pilgrimage tour operators in December, U Myo Win Nyunt, director of the ministry said on November 30.

“We have received applications from nine domestic pilgrimage tour operators for the one-year temporary license, which will be issued in December,” he said.

According to the tourism ministry, the applicants must certify that they have a suitable office space, that their documents have been approved by a ward administrator and that they have a Domestic Pilgrimage and Tour Operators Association licence.

To qualify, applicants must be members of the association. Membership fees are K150,000 and annual fees are K30,000, according to U Kyaw Min Hlaing, association general secretary.

Applications for the temporary license opened in October. So far, only a few operators have the association’s license.

“We have 300 association members and over 50 operators already have the document. We remind others that the document is required to get the one-year license,” he said.

Most domestic pilgrimage tour operators are small and medium entrepreneurs who are operating without a license, which may result in problems and misunderstanding between travelers and locals, U Myo Win Nyunt said.
“We want to be more systematic with legalisation of pilgrimage operators. Also the government will get more taxes from them,” he said.

The tourism ministry will not penalise pilgrimage operators lacking the required license within the introductory period. After that, fines up to K20 million, three years in prison or both can be imposed, according to the new tourism law.
There is no need to register the company with the Directorate of Investment and Company administration for this one-year license, according to tourism ministry.

“DICA accepted that the temporary license issued by the hotel and tourism ministry doesn’t required registration because most of the domestic pilgrimage tour operators can’t afford to build a company as a small and medium enterprise,” U Myo Win Nyunt said.

Prior to the reform, several domestic tour operators were running without any license as they can’t apply for the license to the ministry without registering with DICA first.

Now, the ministry can grant licences to those operators after negotiating with the domestic pilgrimage association.

For this one-year license applicants will need to pay K50,000 to the tourism ministry, and it must be renewed yearly.

Currently the ministry issues two-year in-bound and out-bound licenses for tour companies worth K200,000 each with a DICA registration.

Tour companies had received 2550 in-bound licenses and 429 out-bound licenses through the end of May this year, according to the tourism ministry.

There were 7.1 million domestic travelers last year, but the government missed out on tax revenue, as unlicensed operators do not pay taxes.

Source : Myanmar Times

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