Home Insider Insider Analysis The NLD Has Created Committees to Regulate Foreigners. But What Effect Will...

The NLD Has Created Committees to Regulate Foreigners. But What Effect Will This Have on the Tourism Industry?

When the government launched the new Central Committee for Supervisory and Taking Care of Foreigners in late June, details were sparse on exactly how this committee would operate. Now, it appears the committee is a double-edged approach to both national security and enhancing the tourism industry, one of the major economic pillars of the country. According to the government, the new committee, headed by Vice President Myint Swe, will more fully scrutinize foreigners entering the country for national security reasons; it will also seek to provide those who do enter with a safe and secure in-country experience in the hopes of boosting the tourism sector. But will this committee actually boost tourism? Or will the coming regulations serve as a hindrance to the industry?

This is not the first committee related to foreigners established by the NLD-led government. A little more than a month prior to establishing the “taking care of foreigners” committee, the Committee for the Smooth Entrance of Foreign Visitors was established following the injury of a female foreign visitor touring in northern Shan State. She suffered minor wounds from a landmine explosion after she entered a restricted area. The committee was set up to prevent these types of accidents by monitoring tourists’ movement in-country, facilitating the admission of foreign visitors at all entry points, assuring sustainability of the natural environment, and policing tourists and tour operators who enter restricted areas.

Myint Htwe, the Director of the Public Relations and Information Department under the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, welcomes the committee as he expects it will drive up tourism numbers.

However, others aren’t so sure. The vague wording of both of the newfound committees has some in the tourism industry wondering what exactly it means for business. For example, citing the government’sdeportation of a Spanish tourist earlier this year for sporting a Buddha tattoo on his leg, there is concern that these new committees will bring about draconian-like rules that will keep tourists away.

An unnamed sales director at a local travel and tours company says it’s too early to judge the effect this will have on the tourism sector. According to him, the stated missions of both of the committees sounds like it will likely be a boon to the tourism industry. Recalling a recent indecent act of partying and dancing on the terrace of a prominent Bagan pagoda by foreigner, he said the move would prevent obscene behaviours of incoming foreigners. However, he says the real effect on the industry is in the execution of the stated objectives which is yet to be seen.