Boycott Lonely Planet
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People are being urged to stop buying the Lonely Planet guidebooks until BBC Worldwide – the current owner of the travel series – withdraws its guide to Burma. The call comes today as the TUC, Tourism Concern, Burma Campaign UK and the New Internationalist launch an online petition calling on the immediate withdrawal of the Burma edition.
The petition, available online at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Burma-Campaign-Action says that the availability of the Lonely Planet guide to Burma encourages tourists to visit the country, and gives people the impression that such travel can be done in an ethical manner.
The four organisations believe that the Lonely Planet guide helps give legitimacy to the brutal regime, as do the tourists who use it to visit Burma. The online petition highlights the link between mass human rights abuses and the tourism industry in Burma, reminding people that over a million Burmese people have been forcibly removed from their homes to make way for new tourism developments.
Both the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese unions have appealed to tourists of the world not to visit the country while the current military dictatorship remains in power.
Visitors to Burma are helping sustain the military junta by giving it much-needed foreign currency, says the online petition. It says that it is virtually impossible to visit Burma without handing over cash, as visa fees, airport duties and currency change are all unavoidable outlays for tourists.
Late last year when BBC Worldwide bought the Lonely Planet guides, the TUC and Tourism Concern wrote to the company asking it to withdraw its Burma guide immediately. The petition says that the BBC Worldwide’s refusal to remove the book is in direct contradiction of the BBC’s own CSR statement, which acknowledges the corporation’s responsibility ‘for both the impact of our output and how we run our business.’
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The very existence of a travel guide to Burma encourages people to visit a country they might not otherwise consider. We want to see the travel industry drop Burma from their list of destinations and taking the Lonely Planet guidebook off the shelves would help enormously. If enough people sign our petition and stop buying Lonely Planet guides, we hope we can encourage the BBC to think again.“
Tricia Barnett of Tourism Concern said: “Given the appalling human rights situation in Burma, we don’t believe it is possible for any company, including BBC Worldwide, to adopt a neutral position on the issue of travel to the country, as it is apparently seeking to do with its Lonely Planet guidebook. The BBC should stop sitting on the fence and send a clear message of condemnation to the regime by withdrawing the Burma edition of its book.”
_New Internationalist_ co-editor Chris Brazier said: “The latest issue of New Internationalist has a special focus on ethical travel. Holidaying in Burma is one of the most unethical trips you could make, given the brutality of the current regime. The Lonely Planet guide to Burma should be immediately withdrawn.”
*NOTES TO EDITORS:*
*Tourism Concern* is an independent, non-industry, UK charity and membership organisation that fights exploitation through tourism (registered charity no. 1064020). Tourism Concern aims to change the way that tourism is traded and developed through collaborative work with industry, government, development and human rights NGOs by supporting marginalised voices. www.tourismconcern.org.uk
*New Internationalist Publications* is an independent not-for-profit communications co-operative. Its multi-award winning magazine, _New Internationalist_, brings to life the people, the ideas and the action in the fight for global justice www.newint.org
*The Burma Campaign UK* is the only national organisation in the UK dedicated to campaigning for human rights and democracy in Burma. www.burmacampaign.org.uk
*The Trade Union Congress (TUC)*, with member unions representing over six and a half million working people, campaigns for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad. www.tuc.org.uk
Burma and Tourism: Facts and Figures
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