Demand Lonely Planet withdraws Myanmar (Burma) guidebook

Despite recognised links between mass human rights abuses and the tourism industry in Burma, BBC Worldwide Ltd - the new owners of the Lonely Planet travel guides - is refusing to withdraw its Myanmar (Burma) guidebook.

Take part in our campaign by signing this petition! Tell BBC Worldwide Ltd that you will not buy any Lonely Planet guidebooks until the Burma edition is withdrawn.


Any Burma guidebook implicitly promotes and encourages travel to the country, whilst mistakenly signifying to tourists that such travel can be done in an ethical way. It also transmits a strong message of validation to the brutal military regime, as do the tourists using the guide and visiting the country.


The links between mass human rights abuses and the tourism industry in Burma have been well documented. These include the displacement of over a million people under 'beautification' schemes near tourist attractions and to make way for tourist developments, such as resorts and golf courses. The use of forced labour, including child labour, to develop tourism infrastructure is also well known.  


Tourism helps sustain the military junta by providing it with much needed foreign currency, and the junta's active promotion of tourism to the country since 1985 is a deliberate strategy to encourage foreign investment. Visiting Burma without contributing to the regime is virtually impossible. Visa fees, airport duties and currency exchange are unavoidable outlays, all of which provide significant revenue to the illegal government.


A tourism boycott has been called for by the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB), including the National League for Democracy - Burma's democratically elected government-in-exile - and the Burmese Federation of Trade Unions (FTUB).  By signing this petition you will be supporting the democratic voice of the Burmese people.


BBC Worldwide Ltd claim that its guide provides objective information to travellers deciding whether to visit and how to make informed choices once there, and denies that it are actively encouraging travel to Burma.


BBC Worldwide Ltd's refusal to withdraw its Lonely Planet Burma guidebook apparently contradicts the BBC's own CSR statement, which clearly acknowledges the company's responsibility "for both the impact of our output and how we run our business". By implicitly supporting tourism to Burma, the BBC appears to undermine trust in its commitment to this policy.

Tourism Concern, the TUC, New Internationalist and Burma Campaign UK want BBC Worldwide Ltd to take a moral stand and send an unambiguous message to the military junta, the tourism industry and the general public that it does not condone the repressive regime by withdrawing its Lonely Planet Burma guidebook until democracy in the country has been restored.



Add your voice to these calls and sign the petition today!



Tourism Concern is an independent UK-based campaigning organisation fighting exploitation in tourism. http://www.tourismconcern.org.uk/

The Trades Union Congress is the voice of Britain at work, representing 58 unions with some 6.5 million members.
 http://www.tuc.org.uk/


New Internationalist magazine - The people, the ideas, the action in the fight for global justice. http://www.newint.org/

Burma Campaign UK campaigns for human rights and development in Burma. http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/

 

We, the undersigned, call on BBC Worldwide Ltd to take a moral stand on the issue of travel to Burma and send an unequivocal message of condemnation to the ruling military regime by withdrawing the Myanmar (Burma) edition of its Lonely Planet guidebook series until democracy in the country has been restored.



We will not buy any Lonely Planet guidebooks until BBC Worldwide Ltd reviews its position in this regard.




  • Any Burma guidebook effectively encourages and promotes travel to Burma whilst transmitting a strong message of validation to the regime, as do the tourists using the guide and visiting the country.

  • Visiting Burma without contributing to the military regime is virtually impossible. Visa fees, airport duties and currency exchange are unavoidable outlays for international tourists, generating significant revenue for the junta.

  • Given the well-documented links between the tourism industry and mass human rights abuses, the continuing rule of an illegal military regime and the calls for a tourism boycott by Burma's democratically elected government-in-exile, we believe it is not possible for BBC Worldwide Ltd to remain neutral on the issue of travel to and trade with Burma.

  • It should not be implied that BBC Worldwide Ltd is filling some kind of information gap with its Burma guidebook: there is plenty of data available on the social, political and human rights situation in Burma for people considering whether or not to go.

  • In terms of feedback that returned tourists provide, the majority of Burmese interacting with visitors will be those working within the tourism industry. Although their opinions are as important as anyone elses, they are not representative of the Burmese population at large and are likely to have a strong pro-tourism bias, thereby perpetuating a one-sided view of the situation.

  • The BBC's CSR statement clearly acknowledges the company's responsibility "for both the impact of our output and how we run our business". By implicitly supporting tourism to Burma, BBC Worldwide undermines trust in this commitment. This is unfortunate and disappointing for an organisation with the reputation of the BBC.
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