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Should You Travel to Myanmar?

If you wonder whether it is politically correct to travel to Myanmar, please read on.

First of all, we cannot express vigorously enough our condemnation of the persecution of the Rohingyas. That not only goes without saying; it is a blinding glimpse of the obvious.

All of our Myanmar partners, associates and friends also condemn it. However, they have an additional perspective that they have asked us to share through the following statement.

“Some well-intended but misguided activists seek a travel boycott of Burma until Aung San Suu Kyi ends the conflict with the Rohingyas. But it is naïve to think that her election to Parliament was going to be a simple solution to the problem. As State Counselor she has very limited powers, and her job is not easy. She must serve her constituents, deal with economic and political pressure from foreign powers, help make up for years of economic neglect and political repression, and manage expectations at home and abroad. Above all, she must be careful not to antagonize the military, which still controls key government offices, including border affairs. Pressuring her to do what is not at present within her control could undermine her influence. As one journalist wrote, “If she says something, it will get worse. If she says nothing, it is a dilemma. The price of power is silence on the principles she holds dear.”

We are grateful for tourism, because hundreds of thousands of us rely on it for our livelihood. Equally important, it provides us with contact with the international community and benefits of the global economy.

Since 1998, Uncommon Journeys and their clients have been stalwart in promoting our welfare by engaging in respectful, responsible tourism. Together we have directed our business exclusively toward privately owned hotels, restaurants and businesses, carefully selected to benefit everyday citizens and local economies. The steadfast presence of Uncommon Journeys and their clients over the last twenty years has been a force for positive change. Going forward, it will be vital to the pro-democracy movement and human rights reform.

Boycotting travel to Burma does not help the situation or the Burmese people. In fact, we believe it is counterproductive. It is not the military that is crippled by the absence of tourism. It is the people.

Like you, we want change. If we recede back into seclusion, we lose the chance for that change. Isolation deprives us of engagement with the outside world and the opportunity to have our voices heard on important issues such as human rights.

We look forward to welcoming you and showing you the many magical things about our country when you feel the time is right.”

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