Monday, July 24, 2017

Souvenir entrepreneurs to issue cash vouchers for gems, handicrafts

The Myanmar Souvenir Entrepreneurs Association (MSEA) has obtained permission from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism to issue cash vouchers for gems and other valuable handicraft bought by tourists, who can present the vouchers at customs departments at international airports and border gateways, said the association’s chair U Than Win.

“We will allow the vouchers for items under US$1000, are not antiques and are not rough gems or jade. The tourists can bring the voucher to the customs authorities, who will verify the legality of goods,” he said.

Currently there are two departments who can give out cash vouchers for souvenirs – Gems under the Ministry of Resources and Environmental Conservation, and the second is Cooperative under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Breeding and Irrigation.

Previously, souvenir entrepreneurs and distributors rent and buy the vouchers from those departments in order to pass customs, he said.

“The members of Cooperative Department had the cash vouchers since ‘Visit Myanmar Year 1996’. We will pay 1 percent from our profit to the ministry if we make sales with the Cooperative’s cash voucher.

“For Gems Department, it is 10pc to the ministry. If a tourist would like to carry a sculpture, we have to get a recommendation letter from the Forestry Department,” said U Than Win.

He said the decision to allow the MSEA to sell souvenirs with cash vouchers was a positive move, adding that the association has yet to decide on what percentage of profits its members have to give back to the association, or which shops will qualify to get the vouchers.

“We have more than 26,000 association members. So we will re-collect the percentage from their profit for using cash vouchers for the promotion of Myanmar tourism,” he said.

The amount will be less than the percentage from the Gems Department collection, said U Than Win.

“We don’t need to take recommendation letters from departments if we have this cash voucher, then tourists can easily pass the customs when departing from our country,” he said.

U Yan Win, chair of Myanmar Tourism Federation told The Myanmar Times that the association had requested for the government to grant them permission to issue the vouchers in order to encourage the sale of souvenirs.

“The association members will get this cash voucher, which ensures they pay taxes to the government for all their profits.

“The tourists have to show this bill of sale for the things they bought before they depart from the country,” U Yan Win said.