Where to Visit in MyanmarVisiting Myanmar
I have recently been asked a few questions as a reporter who has been living in Myanmar for several years: Should the recent violent attacks against the Rohingya minorities mean that there are still visitors? From the shimmering arcipelago on the Andaman Ocean to the Bagan Plain with its thousand Stupa peaks to the Himalayan spurs, Myanmar has a history of being "untouched" - something appreciated by the tourist in search of an "authentic" journey itinerary.
Larger than neighboring Thailand and home to some 51 million inhabitants, the land is made up of a vertiginous number of indigenous, ethnical and language groups. Myanmar rates the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smartraveller website as "very cautious" overall, with sector-specific alerts ranging from "rethink your need to travel" to "do not travel".
It is still, in fact, a relatively small part of the land where visitors are allowed to drive without having to do anything in the paper. There are some areas that are taboo for good reason: in 2016 two Germans were hurt in a mine explosion while hiking. In 2010, a tourist embargo sponsored by Aung San Suu Kyi, now the nominee leader and celebrated international democratic symbol, was overturned.
Since then, there have been an influx of visitors. Governmental placards "Welcome and Ask for Tourists" can be seen in the large centers, and this is something that has been taken to heart as Myanmar is known for its welcoming population. In the years of the blacking out, small tourist businesses often seamed the bags of those closely associated with the army regimes.
However, the incidents since October 2016 have hit the tourist industry hard and damaged the country's international reputation. The Rohingya Muslims have been brutally purged by the army (called "ethnic cleansing" by leading UN officials) in recent month, and more than 600,000 refugees have fled the northern Rakhine state across the Bangladesh boarder, an expedition that is continuing to this very day.
The Rohingya explosion made worldwide news, but reporting in Myanmar is a new one. Rohingya are considered by the Myanmar population to be Bangladeshi migrants. There are many who believe that the Rohingya have escaped the land to win the support and help of the nations - but not before they have torched their own houses.
It is believed that the threats from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which launched or played down or ignored assaults on members of the military force. Concerning the well-documented accusations of heinous acts by the police? The Rohingya issue is now regarded as the Church in a land where its regime has been viewed with suspicion.
There is a "siege mentality" in which men sense that their land - and their loved guide - is being slandered unjustly. Aung San Suu Kyi sees the voice majoritarian in Kenya as the country's best chance of obtaining a democracy that does everything in its power to tackle the country's countless stakes, as well as the apartheid-like circumstances that continue to exist in Rakhine, to revive the peacemaking processes and try to curb the military.
Shall I be boycotting Myanmar? Whether or not to go to Myanmar, where state authorities are charged with odious acts of warfare, is up to the individuals. A brief increase in tourist activity in the state of Rakhine itself gave the local people working in the sector a ray of light of hope. I was asked why so few visitors came to their city and they said they thought that the advantages of the tourist trade would help to remedy the financial problems that are fueling the conflicts in this poor place.
Hopefully one day the state of Rakhine will be strong enough to be recommended with a clear conscience to be visited by those who can see the impressive sight of the sun rising over a misty morning in the old city of the temples of Mrauk U.. In my opinion, a blackout only raises the danger that the state will retreat to itself.
This will not help the Burmese and certainly not the Rohingya. It seems to be the general opinion in the tourist sector that normal persons, whose livelihood depends on tourists, are affected by a distant dispute against which they can do little. In Myanmar, when talking about the severe penalties that the Burmese government has been facing for years, they say that isolating and economically depriving the simple folk of their rights is causing great harm.
Myanmar is a country where wide-spread plight is obvious to all visitors and it is the responsibility of visitors and investment to contribute to the promotion of ethically and sustainably responsible practice. Tourism should find out about the places they are visiting. In the end, the only way to change the surroundings in which anxiety, lack of knowledge and hate towards others flourish is by the Myanmarites.