NLD ‘welcomes responsible tourism’ in Burma: - Responsible Travel responds by lifting its ban on Burma-based vacations
A statement released by The National League for Democracy (NLD) last Friday was reported yesterday in
The Irrawaddy newspaper under the headline ‘NLD Welcomes Responsible Tourism, But Warns Against Abuses’.
In response, Responsible Travel announced it has lifted the ban on Burma-based
vacations from its website but urges the travel industry to act with
care and avoid 'irresponsible' tourism development in the region. It
also urges the Burmese Government and newly formed Burmese Tourist Board
to work with the NLD and local people to put a responsible tourism plan
The article - with the subheading 'correction appended' - marks a bizarre 360 degrees u-turn for the newspaper, after having reported on the very same statement on Tuesday with an article entitled 'NLD Condemn Tourism in Burma'. The piece received severe criticism via the paper's forum and has subsequently been removed from the newspaper's website and replaced with a more favourable interpretation of the NLD statement.
The party's statement last Friday said:
"The NLD 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, political and social life of the country while enjoying a happy and fulfilling vacation in Burma."
Responding to this invitation for responsible tourism and tourists to Burma, Justin Francis, founder and managing director of Responsible Travel said:
"Right from our start in 2001 we've upheld a ban on tourism to Burma
based on the request made by Aung San Suu Kyi for tourists not to visit.
I am aware that many tourism businesses, of all types, are now keen
to develop tourism in Burma. The message from Aung San Suu Kyi is clear
- she only wants respectful tourism and is interested to see responsible
tourism develop in Burma. So we are welcoming to our collection those
Burma vacations and companies who operate responsibly in the region and
work to establish deep connections that benefit local economies and
preserve cultures against the potential harms of tourism.
“Small scale locally owned tourism could benefit the country's people economically and help to increase cultural and political awareness overseas which could only be a good thing for democracy in Burma. However, we must avoid the juggernaut of exploitation that mass, unplanned and unrestricted tourism can bring to destinations at all costs. I would urge the Burmese Government and newly formed Burmese Tourist Board to work with the NLD and local communities with an interest in tourism, to ensure that responsible tourism sets the agenda in the region.”
For further comment, interviews, electronic copies of the NLD statement or the original Irrawaddy article please contact Responsible Travel at
firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01273 648519