The pros and cons of traveling to Burma will be in the spotlight of our new Weekly EcoBurma Round-up.
“Why Should Today Be the Day You Head to Burma?”. With a series of arguments, the article encourages readers to go to Burma. Thanks to the release of political prisoner and the call on for responsible tourism which promotes the conservation of the environment and benefits for local people, it seems that the green light is now on for tourists to come and supports Burma’s transformation into an “a la mode” and attractive destination. Changes are said to be fast moving towards democratization and the development of the rights of Burmese people.
That might be convincing. However, it is necessary to moderate such statements. Indeed, changes cannot occur in the blink of an eye and the human right international community is still concerned and dubious about Burma’s future. In this way, “organisations like the U.S Campaign for Burma […] say the idea that Myanmar has changed overnight is a myth”. The scope of changes and optimism on the part of Burmese people is minimal right now for Jennifer Quickley, the Campaign’s advocacy director.
On the one hand, some estimable changes occurred as the creation of an official exchange rate for the kyat that would prevent the regime from capturing foreign revenues as it was before. Tourists can choose where and with whom to spend their money. Moreover, Burma’s government calls for more investments from foreign entrepreneurs to develop and promote further its tourism infrastructures.
On the other hand, regarding human rights violations, full peace of mind does not exist since there are still worries about what the Burmese army (which has a reputation for confiscating land and intimidating local people) will do on the behalf of these international companies. As recalls Jennifer Quickley, as “the Burmese require joint ventures, what can foreign companies do to prevent their business partner from committing human rights abuses?” And outside urban centers, in some regions of Myanmar, corruption is still the name of a game.
The wheels are definitely turning, however, and roughly 1,500 tourists now arrive each day in Myanmar, all the more since it is a stunning country to see with picturesque and amazing landscapes.
What are the lessons to be learned from other countries? It could be useful to read this article about Costa Rica: “Why Costa Rica could become another loser and not a winner?”. It describes what the consequences of the tourism boom can be in Costa Rica’s South Pacific, especially if government embraces a model of development without being conscious of its negative outcomes.
What about some economic news concerning Burma?
To fully expand tourism and also any other industry, Burma needs “a comprehensive electricity infrastructure network to reach most of Burma’s population”. At present, only 25% of the country is linked to a decent electricity grid, the cost of fully powering Burma would be at least US$20 billion and would take nearly 10 years. Large-scale foreign investments will be required but, at the moment, very few international companies are willing to be involved in that process.
This is a travel story before the crush of tourism that is expected to occur in 2012-2013. The author portrays Burma as you can see it now: hiking in the mountains, visiting the Inle Lake, going deeper into the country and feeling like he had the whole country to himself. It is still pretty peaceful, with no trinkets or souvenirs yet being sold everywhere at the main tourist attractions.
He also described how he could see booths for the National League for Democracy, the opposition party, with images of Aung San Suu Kyi on posters, notebooks, postcards – this would have been unimaginable a year ago.
However, even if websites such as Facebook and Twitter are accessible, the Internet is still very slow and not always working. How to travel old school with no Internet? That is the story and challenge of this blog where the author decided that during his 28-day journey in Burma, he would be completely unplug from the digital world.
Would you like to discover Burma from another view? This vegetarian survival guide to Myanmar will introduce you to the best ways to taste and enjoy vegetarian meals in Burma. The author seems to just sample the street food stalls throughout the country, watch what other people ordered, and enjoy the delicious local specialties.
In this guide, you will learn how to say vegetarian in Burmese, find food lists and discover the simple rules not to be disappointed and to be delighted in.
Finally, you can also find a delightful recipe of Burmese rolls here.
Have a good week!