Homestay to Come Soon to Myanmar?

Myanmar, home-stay, community

Akha villagers near Tachileik city. Sharing the Globe

Myanmar is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia without a home-stay program. This is due to restrictive laws in vigor. However, law could soon be changed according to newspaper Myanmar Times.

The home-stay programme in the countryside will become a reality once the new tourism law which is being discussed in a Pyithu Hluttaw committee is approved.

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has been trying to amend the Myanmar Hotels and Tourism Law enacted in 1993.

 According to the law, the ministry only issues four kinds of licenses: for hotels and guest houses, tour companies, tour guides and tourist transportation vehicles.

They need to include one more license for tourism related businesses such as home-stays, spas and entertainment in the tourism industry to reflect the changing tourism landscape, a senior ministry official told The Myanmar Times.

“We added an open license for tourism-related businesses allowed to do home-stay or other businesses with the cooperation of regional governments,” U Myo Win Nyunt said.

Previously the Tourism and other ministries did not issue home-stay permit in the countryside due to security and cultural concerns.

However, the ministry implemented community-based tourism, similar to the home-stay programme, all over the country, but it still needs private investment to develop.

The home-stay programme is a tourism product that meets ASEAN standards so it should be implemented, said U Thet Lwin Toh, chairman of the Myanmar Travel Association.

“The Tourism and other ministries are not allowing the programme due to security and cultural concerns, but some are being done unofficially. If they allow home-stays, it should be limited and for locals only,” he said.

The home-stay programme should be allowed for local and foreign students, domestic travellers and package tours. It should not be allowed for free independent travellers in the countryside, he said.

“Our neighbour Thailand, which is very successful in tourism, only accepts those kinds of travellers for home-stays, not free independent travellers. Also, we should introduce destination management organisation with stakeholders regulated by law,” U Thet Lwin Toh said.

The tourism sector is not so rosy at present, so they will reconsider market strategies, destination management and introduction of new tourism products, he said.

“We will hold the National Tourism Conference on May 15 in Nay Pyi Taw, where we will continue to discuss and try to find solutions to problems,” U Thet Lwin Toh said.

(Source: the Myanmar Times)