November 15, 2004

The Burma Campaign UK today warned that the takeover of the Royal Scotsman luxury train by Orient Express will cast a shadow of shame over one of Scotland’s most prestigious tourist attractions.

Orient Express today announced its takeover of the Royal Scotsman, described by Visit Scotland as “The world’s most luxurious train.”

Orient Express are one of the few significant travel companies still operating in Burma, a country where tourism is strongly linked to human rights abuses such as the use of slave labour. The British government has repeatedly called on travel companies not to operate in Burma, but Orient Express refuse to withdraw.

Tourism is an important source of income for the brutal dictatorship, which spends half its budget on the military and just 19p per person per year on health. For this reason democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi – who remains under house arrest – has asked tourists not to visit the country. Orient Express have defied the wishes of Burma’s democracy movement, and are expanding their operations in Burma, where they run a luxury cruise, and have stakes in two hotels.

“Orient Express are helping to fund a brutal military dictatorship”, says Yvette Mahon, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “It is a shame such an important Scottish symbol will now be tainted by Orient Express’s unethical behaviour.”

The Burma Campaign UK are calling on Michael Ryan and Fergus Hobbs, owners of the Royal Scotsman, to reconsider selling to Orient Express.

“Many people refuse to travel with Orient Express because of their links to Burma military dictatorship,” said Yvette Mahon. “This sale means people may also boycott the Royal Scotsman.”

For more information contact Mark Farmaner, Media Officer, on 020 7324 4713.

 


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