Open Jaw: 'An individual boycott is not the answer to tyranny'
Where readers write back
Friday 17 February 2012
Burma back on the tourist map
I was pleased to see your article on Saturday 4 February on "Tyranny and the tourist's conscience". However, I do not feel – unless there is a special plea such as there was from Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma – that an individual boycott is the answer. I occasionally travel to a country that has an appalling history of human rights abuses. I go knowing what has been – and is still – happening there. I suspect that it is because of Aung San Suu Kyi that we learned about Burma's dreadful record. Had she not said what she did we would have happily travelled to what must be a beautiful and remarkable country thinking that all is well. The media also have responsibility. Travel writers should extol the attractions of a country, but they should also not pretend everything is rosy. This would do more to convince the regime to change its ways than anything.
The Burmese are the kindest, friendliest people I have experienced in the whole of Asia, in spite of being some of the poorest. When I visited six years ago, however, they were afraid to speak to foreigners and probably still are.
I went to Burma eight years ago. Sometimes I wouldn't see another tourist for days and the locals were the friendliest of any country I've been to. It was similar to Laos 15 years ago where now sadly many magic places are full of new hotels and bars to cater for the hordes. I fear Burma will go the same way. You could argue tourism brings jobs but it could end up like Thailand where staff of expensive hotels live five to a room and earn very little, all so we can have a cheap holiday.
It was interesting to read Simon Calder's views on travel boycotts. I will probably never go to China after Tiananmen Square, although I must admit North Korea does intrigue me.
Withholding tourist cash which might sustain Robert Mugabe's vile regime is laudable, though probably of doubtful impact to a tyrant who is so indifferent to the welfare of his people.
Travellers in the developed world need to look at ways of putting something back. If we truly wish to diminish poverty and promote a more peaceful world, then we must hold out a hand of understanding and friendship at this micro level. Many are doing, but not enough.
I went to Salazar's Portugal and Franco's Spain – seeing police states from the inside teaches a useful personal lesson.
Stansted in snow slowdown
Ryanair never benefits from anything that happens at Stansted – it is a BAA disaster and we await its sale. We understand that there was a delay in some BAA staff arriving to work on Sunday 5 February which led to some flight disruption which was already suffering from adverse weather. Ryanair apologies to passengers involved.
Stephen McNamara, Ryanair
A lot of passengers, (between 200 and 300) missed their flights due to security queues at Stansted airport on Sunday 5 February. Usually the airport alerts us that there is a problem and we waive the fee, but we were not alerted by Stansted to the issue. Anyone who was charged the £50 rescue fee to be rebooked on to the next available flight should write to customer relations and we will happily refund those affected passengers.
Anna Knowles, easyJet
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