How to holiday ethically in Burma
Myanmar vacations are now booming
Backpackers heading to Myanmar in big numbers
Burma or as it is now known, Myanmar, is a fascinating country that many want to visit, but one that many still worry about Burma tourism on ethical or practical grounds. The questions regarding tourism in Burma or Myanmar have started to move away from ethical towards practical, and a little advice on Burma travel or Myanmar vacations is always welcome.
Until late 2009, Burma, or Myanmar, was mainly shunned by travellers with only a few hardy Myanmar backpackers making the trip and was largely ignored by the travel trade in general.
The general consensus was that by visiting Myanmar you were endorsing the military dictatorship, or rejecting the advice of Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader who, while under house of arrest, made her loathing of tourism clear to everyone.
Things had begun to change even before Suu Kyi’s release in November of 2010, as she had let it be known that she now believed that private sector tourism in Burma wasn’t such a bad idea after all, with the changing climate in the country providing better possibilities for people to find Burma hotels, or Myanmar hostel accommodation.
The EU and the US eased sanctions and Suu Kyi, who recently met British PM David Cameron, has been elected to parliament.
The effect that these actions have had on the Myanmar tourist trade has been nothing short of remarkable. Companies that have always boycotted the country rushed to add it to their portfolios, and in March 2012 it was reported that tour operators had been overwhelmed by the demand, particularly for package trips to Burma or group holidays to Myanmar.
In May 2011, the NLD, National League for Democracy, issued a statement that said they would “welcome visitors who are keen to promote the welfare of the common people and the conservation of the environment and to acquire an insight into the cultural and social life of the Myanmar while enjoying a happy and fulfilling holiday in Burma.” Few visitors would exclude themselves from this.
Most visitors, are likely to visit Burma as part of a group, and travel around Myanmar as one, while staying in Rangoon’s hotels and travelling on the tourist ships on the Irrawaddy River.
The Burma Campaign UK is advising people to either travel independently or with one of the smaller tour operators, but almost every company that goes to Burma falls into that category.