Ethical Travel MyanmarMyanmar Ethical Travel
Traveling responsibly in Myanmar (Burma) -
I addressed last week's annual conference on Myanmar (Burma) and in particular our responsibility in the Myanmar tourism industry, including the avoidance of hotel accommodation held by or near members of the state. During a recent trip to Myanmar, after many discussions with our regional partners in the county, we chose to calculate each and every effort to determine who would benefit and to make choices on the basis of our standard standards of excellence and sustainable development.
In our view, the historic prospect, the realities of the local conditions, what such a politics means in practical terms and what our destinations were for our holiday in Myanmar. In order to place the choice in its current and historic contexts, I think it is important to know how far Myanmar has come since 2009.
Even the most wildly optimistic man of 2009 would not have foretold that we would be where we are now. In 2010 Aung San Suukyyi, of "the woman" as she is called in Myanmar, was freed from jail and 100 other dissident politicians followed. and a new administration was established under President Thein Sein.
Burma has seen an increase in the number of tourists - from 300,000 in 2010 to 2 million in 2013 and a possible 3 million in 2015. Indemic pauperism persists, and if anything, the various interstate conflict with African armies and municipal power between Buddhists and Muslims have intensified (perhaps as a immediate consequence of expanded freedoms).
However, the point still is that Myanmar is a completely different place from 2009 or even 2011, when the tourist industry really began to open up. Indeed, considering the context of Asia (a Thai army regimes, a state treaty in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam), the advances are astonishing.
This takes us back to my November last year and our choice to make changes to our policies. Myanmar is a man with a very powerful missions. Leaving the state in 2002 at the peak of oppression, he saw no prospects for his tourist careers, but returning in 2009 after building a flourishing shop in Cambodia.
It has a penchant for fair developement and the establishment of lasting relations that benefits the whole nation, and not just an élite of a few international businesses or large groups. They believe that Myanmar can be so much better than it is and are totally tolerant of bad customer care and bad end products.
It is scarcely possible to judge morally to whom which hotels and which means of transportation now belong and how closely they are to which part of the state. Nor is it the case that the tourist dollar "supports" the government - as one could have said (almost) in 2009.
Burma is by far the impoverished nation in the area and one of the worlds impoverished countries. It persuaded me that the financial benefit of visitors to Myanmar to spread their expenses as widely as possible and to engage with the general community was far greater than any small amount to unappetizing people.
The majority of Myanmar's tourists come to the same 4 tourist attractions, namely: When you want to go to these places and the only way is a resort with a character near the former or present mode, shouldn't you go? It is important for the inhabitants of these areas to be able to profit financially from the tourist industry, and the tourist industry can be useful if it provides an economical stimulus for the conservation of our planet's riches.
Htoo group leader Tay Za would be exactly the kind of man you could call a'crony' state. Former ly a member of the staff of former Than Shwe, he has all kinds of interests in the fields of timber felling, coal miners and the tourist sector. While I know very little about him when I asked him to various Myanmar tourist agents, he said he had a reputable record among his approximately 40,000 staff and in fact, in the tourist sector, the Htoo Group was seen as a high payer - perhaps an oversized employer!
Although I do not want to draw him as an example of virtues, I would just like to cite the example to emphasise that the picture is not monochrome and that all our distant ethical judgments are dangerous and hypocritical. I believe we should move towards Myanmar in the same way we should move towards each of our goals.
We want to offer our visitors a life-affirming holiday based on sustained, enduring relations and a sensible exchange of people. Our aim is not to take our vacations, exploiting and giving someone back. In Myanmar and beyond, we want them to be a power for good things and we firmly believe that the kind of ardent travelers who come on our vacations want to be a part of it.
While we believe in ethics for its own sake, we also believe that vacations that have been constructed with sustainable construction as part of their dnas are more revealing, engaging, enlightening and finally, of course, for a better vacation.