Sunday, August 20, 2017

Unlicensed domestic tour operators want to be legalised

Some 600 unlicensed domestics tour operators in the country want to apply for licenses, approved by the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism, to legalise their businesses as they do not want to be associated with unscrupulous travel agents, said a tour operator’s association.

Unlicensed tour operators are hurting the industry’s image as some cheat travellers by selling false travel packages and it is difficult for the authorities to punish them.

The existence of unlicensed agents are also harming the ministry’s revenue as they are unable to collect taxes from illegal operators.

“We need licenses because so many problems are happening in the domestic tourism. For instance, some operators sell a five day package but the actual itinerary is only for four days, these are illegal tour operators [we had at least five operators this year] who cheated travellers of their money but we can’t resolve these problems because they are not licensed,” U Kaw Min Hlaing, general secretary of Domestic Pilgrimage and Tour Operator Association told The Myanmar Times.

The ministry approved licenses costing K200,000 for two years for each in-bound and out-bound tour companies but there are no separate license for domestic pilgrimages tours operators yet.

It approved 2550 licenses for in-bound tour companies and 429 licenses for out-bound tour companies until end of May this year.

U Myoe Gyi, owner of Thuka Mein pilgrimages told The Myanmar Times that the number of domestic tours operators are increasing as it is easy to earn money and some tend to indulged in cheating travellers.

“It is possible to be cheated by tour operators if they sell cheaper packages compared with the others (legal operators), so travellers should chose genuine operators when making bookings. In April this year, four people cheated their customers,” he said.

According to the ministry, domestic pilgrimage tours operators can apply for license if they fulfill the ministry’s requirements.

Domestic pilgrimage tour license is included in-bound license but they should register the company first with the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) before they apply.

“The problem is they are a kind of small and medium business so they can’t fulfill some requirements for license to be approved. So we are still negotiating how to issue licenses for them,” U Myo Win Nyunt, director of Ministry of Hotel and Tourism told The Myanmar Times.

U Kyaw Min Hlaing said there were 7.1 million domestic travellers last year and the government would lose a large amount of tax revenue as unlicensed operators do not pay taxes.