Burma Update (from Tourism Concern site) 
Why tourists and tour operators should stay away from Burma…
On Saturday 27th May 2006 the Burmese government extended the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democratically elected leader, despite calls for her release from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Burma has formed the cornerstone of our campaigning work on tourism and human rights for many years. Since the junta declared 1996 ‘Visit Myanmar Year’, we have campaigned for tour operators and individual tourists to stay away from Burma. We were delighted when two major guidebook publishers announced that they would not be producing future editions of their Burma guides and several UK tour operators pulled out of Burma. Tourism Concern is aware that some time has passed since then and as there seems to be a popular misconception that the tide is turning in favour of travel to B
urma so we have decided to reiterate our position.

There are and always have been people, both in Burma and the west who disagree with a tourism boycott. Some now believe that the boycott has not worked, that the strong economic links with India and China mean it has had little effect, and therefore serves no purpose. The aim of the tourism boycott was not to halt Burma’s economy but to ensure that tourism was not directly contributing financially to the military junta. In this respect the boycott has been very successful. Tourist numbers to Burma are still exceedingly low, when compared to its Southeast Asian neighbours, with a large proportion originating from other Asian countries or on a ‘visa run’ from Thailand, staying only a very short time in the country.

Travelling in Burma without contributing to the government is virtually impossible. Moneychangers, many hotels and transport companies are either owned by the government or have to pay them large fees or bribes. The concept of encouraging responsible travel in Burma is an attractive one, with tourists only travelling through small privately run business and buying good from locals. Unfortunately this is a very simplistic and idealistic view of international tourism. It is obvious from witnessing trends in neighbouring Thailand that this is not how the majority of tourists operate. It is not possible to encourage one type of tourist to travel to Burma but ban another inevitable set of travellers.

Any tour operator or guidebook which condones travel to Burma sends a strong message of validation to all. It is unfeasible that thousands of people would travel to Burma without visiting major tourist attractions and thereby donating to the military junta and encouraging forced labour, which anecdotal evidence suggests is still occurring.

By encouraging people to visit Burma tour operators and guide books are taking away a valuable tool currently used to highlight the grave human rights abuses. Obviously increased numbers of tourists to Burma would have some economic trickle down to local people but when compared to the millions in revenue it would earn the government and the proven direct link to human rights abuses we believe it is not a fair trade. In a country with no enemies, where half its annual budget is spent on its military and it is currently displacing thousands of ethnic Karen families near the Thai border, any increase in revenue would not be a positive development for its civilian population. It is very complex and there will be Burmese who do not advocate a boycott but importantly Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically appointed leader of Burma, does. Currently her message remains that people should not visit at this time and unless we hear otherwise.    





  1. marco 12/08/2007 / 11:42 PM

    Ciao piccola, come va? Sto usando il computer di Marco ma in realtà è la tua amica addetta alla "logistica" che parla. Mi stavo documentando per il mio prossimo viaggio in Asia e ho trovato queste considerazioni molto interessanti relative al Myanmar. Leggi e poi fammi sapere.
    Un bacio grande
    Should you go to Myanmar?
    The decision whether or not to travel to Myanmar is best made after an appraisal of pros and cons.
    Reasons Not to Go:
    Aung San Suu Kyi has asked tourists not to; the government used forced labour to ready tourist-related sights and services; international tourism can be seen as a stamp of approval to the Myanmar government; the government forbids travel to many areas, particularly in areas inhabited by minority groups; it\’s impossible to visit without some money going to the military junta (roughly US$20.00 per visa, US$10.00 per departure fee and seven to 10% tax on purchases); and activists claim that tourism dollars fuel government repression directly.
    Reasons to Go:
    Tourism remains one of the few industries to which ordinary locals have access – in terms of income and communication; the vast majority of locals want you there; human-rights abuses are less likely to occur in areas where the international community is present; the government stopped forcing foreigners to change US$200.00 into government notes upon arrival; the majority (possibly over 80%) of a careful independent traveller\’s expenses goes into the private sector; and keeping the people isolated from international witnesses to internal oppression may only cement the government\’s ability to rule.
    If You Decide to Go:
    In order to maximise the positive effects of a visit among the general populace, while minimising support of the government, follow these simple tactics: stay at private, locally owned hotels and guesthouses; avoid package tours connected with Myanmar Travel and Tours; avoid MTT-sponsored modes of transport, such as most Yangon-Mandalay Express trains, the MTT ferry between Mandalay and Bagan, and Myanmar Airways International (MAI) flights; buy handicrafts directly from the artisans, rather than from government shops; avoid patronising companies involved with the military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings (companies with solid links to the Tatmadaw or armed forces are often called Myawadi or Myawaddy); write to the Myanmar government and to the Myanmar embassy in your country expressing your views about the human-rights situation there. 

    "Mi piace"

  2. ¢яαzу вσу 23/05/2007 / 11:10 PM

    ciao sonia è da un pò ke visito il tuo blog e devo dire ke mi affascina ogni vlta ke vi ci entro
    è assolutamente emozionante solo il fatto di poter pensare di fare tt qst viaggi
    anke a me piace viaggiare ma nn mi sn mai spostato dal continente
    diciamo ke prima ho fatto una visitina in brasile a shangaj, mombaso,sri lanka, zanzibar, panama e in india eheheheheheheh 😛
    bhe ke dire FANTASTICO e na cosa mozzafiato!
    bhe adesso lascio qst meraviglioso blog ke secondo me è ql + interessante e bello di tt gli altri
    ciao un immenso bacio e continua cosi voglio vedere altre foto!!!

    "Mi piace"


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