Local tour agencies urged to register

Companies in the tour and travel business have been advised to register their operations and obtain proper licenses, failing which they will be liable to fines.

U Muang Muang Aye, vice chair of the Domestic Pilgrimage and Tour Operators Association, made the call on Tuesday in the face of a surge in tourism and the government’s effort to regulate the sector to prevent unscrupulous companies from taking advantage of travellers.

To obtain licenses, the companies need to register with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

“A tour operator needs to have a proper business structure. The ministry has tried to make sure there are no obstacles to applying for and receiving licenses.

‘‘The number of locals travelling on pilgrimage has risen every year. While there are companies that operate by the rules, many others lack proper licenses. We have negotiated with respective government agencies to closely monitor their operations.

‘‘Therefore, I would like to urge them to register with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in order to obtain proper licenses,” said U Maung Maung Aye.

A Tourism Bill, he said, submitted to Pyidaungsu Hluttaw makes it mandatory for tour agencies to register their operations, failing which their owners will be liable to penalties – prison terms not exceeding three years, a fine of not more than K20million, or both.

According to the association, presently only 25 percent of local tour companies have valid operating licenses.

“Those operating without licenses can’t run regular tours. And the operators are also required to buy insurance, but most don’t do it, even though they sell tour packages where prices start in the K70,000-100,000 range. Insurance is necessary for travellers,” said U Zin Min Kyaw, chairman of the Mandalay chapter of the association.

The application fee is K50,000 and a license is valid for one year, said Daw Thida Moe, deputy director of Mandalay’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

The majority of local pilgrims travel to Kyihtiyo Pagoda in Mon State’s Thadon township. There is a significant increase in tourist traffic during festivals and long holidays.

Source: Myanmar Times

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