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Action Alert on Burma Tourism

Dear Friends ;                                        " 786 "        
 The travel company Intrepid Travel, based in Australia, pulled out of
 trips to Burma in 1999. They are now reviewing their decision and
 have organised an online poll to gauge opinion on the subject.
 They have been in touch both with The Burma Campaign and Tourism
 Concern and both organisations have urged them to maintain their
 current position and not resume operating trips to Burma.
 PLEASE go to the site now and vote for them to maintain their
 position. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/burmavote.html
 Many thanks for your support :

Minn Kyaw ( BDMC : Malaysia ) .
If you would like more information about the issues surrounding tourism to Burma. 
The cost of a holiday could be someone's life 
Tourism to Burma - should you stay or should you go? 

There are few areas in the world where human rights are fully respected. There are also few occasions when the nature of the suppression of human rights is such that the exclusion of tourists from the country is justified. However, Burma is a rare example where the exclusion of tourists is appropriate. Some of the reasons are outlined below:

There are well-documented mass human rights abuses directly linked to the development of tourist infrastructure and the tourism industry. The United Nation's International Labour Organisation reports that "the military?treat the civilian population as an unlimited pool of unpaid forced labourers and servants at their disposal. The practice of forced labour is to encourage private investment in infrastructure development, public sector works and tourism projects." Around 8 million men, women and children are forced to labour, under the harshest conditions, on infrastructure projects across Burma each year. Many thousands more have been forced from their homes to make way for tourism developments or as part of so-called 'beautification' projects

The Tourism industry and visiting tourists are helping sustain one of the most brutal military regimes in the world. It is extremely difficult for individual tourists to refrain from providing hard currency to the regime. There is a requirement for independent tourists to exchange $200 when entering the country, while many hotels, domestic airlines and other 'dollar only' retail outlets are fully or jointly owned by the regime or its associates. A regime that was weak and bankrupt in 1988 has used foreign investment and hard foreign currency through the 1990s to double the size of its military and strengthen its grip on power

Tourism currently benefits only a tiny percentage of Burma's 48 million people. Eighty per cent live in rural areas and do not in the main benefit from current forms of tourism. In fact because of the widespread human rights abuses linked to tourism the high cost for the vast majority of ordinary Burmese of tourism development currently outweighs any benefits 

For the reasons outlined above, Burma's elected leaders, the only authority with a mandate to speak for the people have asked all tourists not to visit Burma for the time being. This is a position held by both the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB)

The UK government and the European Union have both adopted the unprecedented position that tourism to Burma is inappropriate under the current regime. 

The Burma Campaign UK campaigns to discourage members of the public from choosing Burma as their holiday destination at this time. We also lobby tour operators and guide book publishers in an attempt to persuade them to discontinue their current promotion of the country. In May 2000 The Burma Campaign UK and Tourism Concern launched a consumer campaign urging members of the public to boycott the publisher Lonely Planet until the company withdraws its guide to the country. Lonely Planet actively promotes tourism to Burma despite full knowledge of the facts and the consequences of their actions. The publisher Rough Guides has already adopted an ethical stance with regard to Burma: 

"There are occasional instances where any benefits(from tourism) are overshadowed by the nature of the social and political climate. Apartheid South Africa was an example. Burma, with its brutal dictatorship, state control of the economy and forced labour used to build its tourist infrastructure, is another. As long as the military regime remains in power and Aung San Suu Kyi - leader of the democratically elected National League for Democracy - requests that tourists do not visit, Rough Guides will not publish a guide to the country." 

What we are asking people to do: ? 

If you need a guide book (to any destination) don't buy a Lonely Planet guide. ? 
Buy a guide from a publisher that does not produce guides to Burma. ? 
Take the Lonely Planet action at the top of this page. ? 
Contact the office if you'd like to send a postcard by snail-mail. 
Thousands of these postcards (snail and e-mailed) will be sent to Lonely Planet by supporters of the campaign making the pledge not to buy Lonely Planet guide books until the Burma guide is withdrawn. 

For a full briefing on the Lonely Planet campaign please call the office on 0207 281 7377.