The Burma Campaign UK today condemned travel firm Kuoni for planning to resume tours to Burma. The Burma Campaign UK has learnt Kuoni plans to resume tours in 2005. Kuoni received widespread praise when it withdrew from Burma last year. The company had stated it did not expect to return until democracy was restored.
“We are very angry that Kuoni have broken their word”, said Yvette Mahon, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “Than Shwe, the dictator of Burma, will be delighted by this news. Money from the tourists Kuoni takes to Burma will go straight into his pockets.”
Burma, ruled by one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world, is the subject of a tourist boycott following calls by Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s democracy movement, for tourists to stay away. Tourism provides the generals with an important source of foreign currency, and slave labour has been widely used to build tourist infrastructure.
Kuoni’s decision to return to Burma is also a snub to British government policy on Burma. In February this year Foreign Office Minister Mike O’Brien renewed his call for travel companies to pull out of Burma, telling the Commons: “Several UK travel agencies still promote tourism to Burma. We are encouraging them to cease to do so, because many hotels and other tourism-related activities in Burma are linked to the military regime. Because there are kickbacks and investments by generals in hotels and other parts of the tourism industry, people who go on tourist trips to Burma are in a sense actively supporting the regime and enabling those generals to receive financial advantage from it.”
“Kuoni must cancel its plans to return to Burma”, says Yvette Mahon. “They should not be funding a regime that uses rape, torture and murder against its own people.”
Kuoni will be added to the ‘Dirty List’ of companies funding the regime in Burma. The Burma Campaign UK and other European campaign groups are also considering further action against Kuoni, including an international boycott campaign.
For more information contact Mark Farmaner, Media Officer, on 020 7324 4713