(Axel Boer) #1



Avoid Package

To u r s
‘We want people to come to Burma, not
to help the junta, but to help the people
by understanding the situation: politi-
cal, economic, moral – everything. To
have a very big cruise ship with hun-
dreds of tourists coming in – that’s a
lot of money for the regime, and so we
don’t like such big business.’
U Win Tin, NLD leader and former
political prisoner

This guidebook is geared for independent
travellers, rather than those on group tours.
You not only get more out of a trip travel-
ling independently and meeting locals, but
also you have more control over where your
money goes.
Many locals who support tourism favour
individual travellers over package tourists;
this is the approach encouraged by Aung
San Suu Kyi and the National League for
Democracy (NLD).
Generally, the more luxurious the tour the
greater the chance that a large percentage
of its cost is going to businesses with strong
links to the government. And in many cases,
travellers pay for tours before they arrive in
Myanmar, which means less of their money

fi nds its way into the pockets of ordinary cit-
izens. Tours also tend to provide less interac-
tion with locals while you’re in the country.
For tips and advice on arranging your own
tour, including securing permits and decid-
ing where to stay and what modes of trans-
port to use, see p 27. If you prefer working
with tour agents in your own country or in
Mynamar, ask them the following questions:
» Who are your owners and do they have any links
to the government?
» What are your policies with regard to using the
services of government or government-linked
» Do you have any charitable programs in place to
assist local communities and/or individuals?
» Can I contribute directly to a clinic, school or
orphanage as part of a trip (always do this in
» Can I hire different guides at each destination
rather than travel with one guide for the whole trip?

Choose Goods &

Services Carefully
Responsible visitors to Myanmar try to mi-
nimise the amount of money they spend on
government owned, or government-friendly
business and services. However, disentan-


The Pros
» When researching this book, we found that the vast majority of locals – including
democracy supporters – welcomed visitors.
» Tourism creates badly needed jobs in a country with a per capita income of
» A savvy independent traveller should be able to ensure that the majority of his or
her travel dollars go to the private sector and not to the government (p 24 ).
» Through ‘direct aid’ efforts (p 25 ), visitors can help improve living conditions for a
local community.
» Tourism facilitates contact between Myanmar’s locals and the outside world: locals
see that they’re not forgotten and visitors take away images and stories to share with
friends and relatives at home, which helps people stay informed about what is going
on inside this traditionally closed nation.

The Cons
» It’s impossible to visit without some money going to the government.
» International tourists can be seen as a symbolic stamp of approval for the govern-
ment, whose human rights abuses and corruption are well documented and continu-
ing; there are over 2000 political prisoners, for example.

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