Despite an uptick in tourism and a shortage of hotel rooms, the government has clamped down on citizens offering private rooms to foreign visitors, mainly because those visitors lack basic home training.
This week, Myanmar’s Ministry for Hotels and Tourism informed tour guides that foreign visitors cannot stay in private homes — and citizens cannot set up accommodations for them in the style of Western room- and house-sharing initiatives like AirBnB — because those visitors’ manners are “not acceptable.” For example, said minister U Htay Aung in an interview, they don’t sleep facing the east, nor do they appreciate common dining customs. The restriction doesn’t apply to rural areas that don’t have hotels.
What’s the Big Idea?
Unsurprisingly, foreign tourism has increased significantly in the few years since Myanmar and its economy became more open. However, with the influx of visitors has come a critical shortage of hotel rooms. In the capital of Yangon alone, only 1,500 to 2,000 of the estimated 8,000 rooms are considered suitable for international visitors. Part of the edict may also have to do with a desire to keep an eye on those visitors, since they are required by law to register with local authorities. For those (citizens and foreigners) who are willing to risk it, AirBnB does offer a few listings on their Web site.