The Burmese military has launched an offensive against Rohingya “extremists” in Rakhine state, with many of the international community concerned Muslim civilians are being targeted in the Buddhist-majority country.
Do tourists visit Rakhine – and should I cancel my trip to Myanmar?
A village in Yangon - September 2017
Few visit the western region, many to see the ancient abandoned city of Mrauk U, the capital of the powerful Mrauk U kingdom from 1430 to 1785.
“None of the areas on our itineraries are in any way impacted by the current problems,” said Liddy Pleasants, representative of a worldwide agency. “Ngapali Beach is in Rakhine State but in the far south and around 500km away from where the violence is occurring.
“Some clients are concerned about visiting Burma from a moral point of view during the current troubles. This is a more difficult personal decision. Our own view is that avoiding travel to Burma does not achieve anything and can in fact be to the detriment of the country as a whole.
Inle Lake - August 2017
“Large parts of the country now rely on tourism to a very great degree. In the past, much of the tourist infrastructure was owned by the government and there was a compelling argument that a tourist embargo would help avoid giving money to the government and therefore help bring about change.
“However, this is no longer the case; the vast majority of hotels and restaurants are now privately owned, and employ local people. Guides are self-employed or work for privately owned tourist enterprises. Drivers again mostly work for privately owned tourist enterprises. Taxi drivers, porters, waiters, souvenir sellers, ticket vendors, hawkers, craftsmen and many more derive all of their income from tourists and would find their livelihood very adversely affected if the tourists stop coming. It is our opinion that avoiding travel to Burma will have little impact on the government and the military but a more profound impact on local people.”
Despites there's a risk in some areas where the government already forbid everyone from entering, tourists have no reason to steer clear of Myanmar. It's perfectly safe to visit this glorious cultural and architectural gem in Southeast Asia.
ASK OUR CORRESPONDENTS
Please feel free to contact our correspondents in UK, France, Belgium and Canada. They would be happy to share their passion for Myanmar and provide you any further information. Here are their contact details. Don't hesitate to get in touch with them !