The draft of the Myanmar Tourism Rules must clearly define the authority of the tourism police, and include a provision for issuing of tour guide licenses only to Myanmar citizens as it has been seen that foreign tourists are travelling with their own guides instead of hiring local guides, according to the Myanmar Tourist Guides Association.
The association has been asked to share its opinion on the draft Myanmar Tourism Rules with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism by 11 January. It held a meeting to discuss the draft rules at the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) in Yangon on 9 January.
“The ministry doesn’t issue licenses to foreigners. But, we have found that many tourists are travelling the country without local guides. We have been discussing this issue for a long time. But there has been no solution yet. Tour guides must be Myanmar citizens according to the law. We want to make sure that such a provision is enshrined in the rules. Tourists are going around the country with their own groups, unaccompanied by local tour guides. Some tourists are bringing their own tour guides, but they just keep the tour guides inside their cars and discuss by themselves. So, we want to protect this kind of issue,” said Daw Ei Thu Htut, the General Secretary of the Myanmar Tourist Guide Association.
According to Section 2 (D), Chapter 1, of the Myanmar Tourism Rules (draft), a tourist guide is a person providing direction and suggestions on places and things of tourist interest, for commercial purposes, to ensure the convenience of tourists throughout a trip. Under this definition, a private organization or company staff can welcome tourists, arrange for their accommodation, offer information, act as interpreters, arrange meals, entertainment or recreation, and similar services in the region where their organization is located, without engaging the services of any outside guide.
“Although tourists say a person providing tourism guidance is their guide, he or she can be a member of a company’s staff. So, we only check their license. Some guides are too young and are underpaid. They accept low pay mainly to gain experience. There will be some problems in the long run, for instance, an inexperienced guide may use improper words. Once, a Korean tourist beat his guide with his shoe for the latter’s poor choice of words,” said Daw Ei Thu Htut.
“Foreign guides can give inaccurate information about Myanmar religion and culture. Therefore, the draft Myanmar Tourism Rules must only allow licensed Myanmar guides to provide services to tourists,” she said.
According to Section 49 (D), Chapter 12, of the draft Myanmar Tourism Rules, an inspection team has to submit its report on any complaints within seven days.
“Company staff cannot be deemed as tour guides. The problem tourist guides are facing needs to be resolved right away. Within seven days, a troublemaker can move out to another country. We don’t want the solution to these issues delayed. So, we need more tourism policemen. In this regard, the role and the authority of the tourism police are not clear and explicitly prescribed yet. Therefore, we need to embody such an explicit provision in the Myanmar Tourism Rules,” she added. The new Myanmar Tourism Law was enacted on 17 September 2018.
According to Section 39 (A) of the law, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism issued the Myanmar Tourism Rules (draft) with the approval of the Union Government, and now, the government has sought the opinions of the tourism industry on the draft rules.
By Aye Yamon Oo(Translated by Hay Mar)