Monday, July 24, 2017

No vacancy for tourists in Myanmar homes

Foreign visitors to Myanmar should not stay in private homes unless no other accommodation is available to them, Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Htay Aung said, as their manners are “not appropriate” for local residents.

He said foreigners do not properly follow Myanmar customs, such as sleeping facing the east, and do not like the Myanmar style of eating, such as a family using one spoon to eat from a single bowl of soup.

The comments came at a meeting of Mandalay’s tourism players – including hoteliers and tour guides – at which U Htay Aung said that “homestays” are only suitable when foreigners visit remote areas. Where hotels are available, he added, particularly in larger urban centres such as Yangon or Mandalay, such arrangements should not be permitted.

“The manners of some foreigners are not appropriate for Myanmar people. But we have to choose homestay where there are no hotels or guest houses. In the meantime, we also need to [stay] strictly alert to possible risks,” he said at the meeting, which was held at Mandalay’s Swan Hotel.

While technically banned, home-stays are common when tourists go on multi-day treks, with accommodation arranged by a guide. In many cases they sleep in monasteries.

Ko Thaung Naing Oo, from the Myanmar Tourist Guide Association’s Mandalay branch, said homestays would help to alleviate the country’s hotel shortage but open communication is essential for the homestay to proceed smoothly.

“It might be arranged in some remote areas like Pauk and Myaing [townships in Magwe Region] where there are no hotels. But tour operators need to inform their guests [of the arrangements] before they go there,” he said.

He said the current lack of adequate accommodation for visitors to Myanmar “is likely to be a concern when tourist numbers increase. It is important to ensure the safety of both visitors and local residents.”

Translated by Zar Zar Soe