Myanmar travel agency rules too tough

24 June 2015
Myanmar travel agency rules too tough
Tourists visit the Mingun Pahtodawgyi located in Sagaing, some 10 kilometers northwest of Mandalay, central Myanmar, 06 February 2015. Photo: Pyae Sone Aung/EPA

After criticism from small and medium-sized travel agencies, the Union of Myanmar Travel Association has challenged some of the rules for issuing licences to allow agencies to operate outbound tours, travel website TRR reported on 23 June.
Though the licences have been available since 1 February, applicants must deposit K10 million (USD9,054.60) and prove they have two years’ experience in the trade before being considered. The restrictions have drawn considerable criticism in the industry.
UMTA chairman, U Aung Myat Kyaw, told the Myanmar Times the main reason for the high deposit was to ensure travellers are protected.
He said discussions were proceeding with private insurance companies to offer travel insurance to cover potential compensation claims if a local firm goes bankrupt with clients still travelling overseas.
“If insurance companies can provide cover, we won’t need to request high deposits from agents,” he said.
The criticism from smaller agencies began when the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism agreed to issue licences for outbound tours last February.
He said the revised regulations would not require either two years’ experience or a K10 million deposit adding, “We need a better banking system and insurance services to replace the need for high deposits.”
The UMTA will report back to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism after further discussions and the ministry will decide whether to revise the regulations.
Ministry of Hotel and Tourism director, U Myo Win Nyunt, said the ministry was open to discussions that resulted in more support for small and medium travel enterprises but the system must also protect customers.
According to the new regulations, local operators would be able to legally partner with foreign companies.
Most of the companies expanding into the outbound market will already have their inbound licences and have a solid track record in tourism services. Very few start-up companies will go into outbound travel on an exclusive basis as the market is too small, but for companies that already have inbound operations they may decide to open a subsidiary to sell outbound travel.