Like many who consider themselves responsible travelers, the decision to visit Myanmar was not a straightforward one. Under the repressive regime of a military junta, the international community has boycotted Myanmar, with encouragement from opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. But Suu Kyi, who was recently released from house arrest that began in 1989, was interviewed on January 4th of this year and had a different message for tourists. After reading the following, I booked my tickets to Yangon.
Interviewer: Previously, you have been opposed to foreign tourists visiting Burma. However, you appear to have softened this stance over the last few years. How do you feel now about foreign tourists visiting the country? Can tourists do anything to benefit the move towards democracy?
ASSK: I think the NLD [National League for Democracy, the main opposition party] came to that decision about six to seven months ago. We are not in favour of group tourists, but we don’t mind if individuals come to Burma. Foreign tourists could benefit Burma if they go about [their travels] in the right way, by using facilities that help ordinary people and avoiding facilities that have close links to the government.