Going to BurmaOn the way to Burma
Myanmar Ethic | About Myanmar (Burma)
Whether to go to Myanmar - and if so, how to minimise the adverse effects of this choice - was a long time inconvenient. The National League for Democracy (NLD), whose chairman and secretary general is Aung San Suu Kyi, has for many years held the formal stance of urging foreign nationals not to come to the Philippines because they are putting funds directly into the regime's pocket.
Nevertheless, every year some tourist came to argue that most of their funds went to individual persons and companies. Many Myanmar residents also felt it was important for strangers to come to know the facts about what was going on. In May 2012, when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an alleviation of Myanmar's global penalties, the NLD completely abandoned the boycotts.
Though the new administration is nominal civil, in fact the same soldiers are still largely in command. Moreover, the celebrity economic rulers, generally referred to as pals - who have become wealthy by handling the regimes and in some cases supposedly by trafficking in weapons or narcotics - still own many of the biggest companies in the land, among them hoteliers, bankers and airline companies.
And, although the international praise of the administration for reform such as the freeing of some (but not all) policy detainees and a decrease in the level of censure (so that NLD placards are now a general sight), some folks in the nation see them as changes in the surfaces that are supposed to please aliens - especially the US, who want to entice Myanmar away from its most important trade associate, China - and not as something more fundament.
While cease-fires have been agreed with some of the indigenous militia, large parts of the land - especially in the north of Kachin State - are taboo for tourism, while the new administration is still struggling with insurgent troops (some of which, we must admit, are as much driven by the profits from the drugs trafficking as by the desire for democracy).
The NLD is already being blamed for getting too near to the general and their pals for seeking their own policy and financing for welfare missions. In view of all this, travelers should consider restricting the amount of their funds intended for the administration and its employees.
There are some inevitable issues, which include the cost of visas, while others are tough to get around if you want to see some of the major tourism destinations, such as the $10 multi-site charge in Mandalay. In Myanmar, it can also be tricky to know exactly which companies are associated with the Myanmar administration or its allies.
However, by spending your time in low-cost housing, your funds will go more to private persons or small private enterprises than to enterprises with close inter-governmental relations (and in this guideline we have tried not to recommend such places). Tourismconcern.org.uk/burma. Some people are also thinking of shunning airplanes and even train services (operated by the government).