November 28, 2003

The Burma Campaign UK today welcomed news that the Railway Touring Company will no longer operate tours to Burma. The company had featured on a ‘Dirty List’ published by the Burma Campaign UK.

The Railway Touring Company is the 7th travel company this year to pull out of Burma. So far this year Kuoni, Abercrombie & Kent, Intrepid Travel, Travelsphere, Scott Dunn Travel and Silk Steps have all announced that they are ending tours to Burma. Carnival/P&O has announced it is reconsidering its cruises to Burma. The Burma Campaign UK is aware of just 24 travel companies left in the UK that still offer tours to Burma. Most of them are small independent operators.

The Railway Touring Company operated an annual ‘Steam to Mandalay’ trip in Burma. Steam trains were hired from the regime for the 14 day tours. In a letter to the Burma Campaign UK Nigel Dobbing of the Railway Touring Co stated: “I confirm the Railway Touring Company will not operate any further tours to Burma until the situation improves and current government advice has changed. Unfortunately we are committed to run the January Tour, but this will be our last Burma tour until the political situation there changes.”

Anna Roberts, Campaigns Officer at the Burma Campaign UK praised the decision: “The Railway Touring Company’s decision demonstrates once again that responsible tour operators are respecting the wishes of Burma’s democrats and not going to Burma. Orient Express should look to their example and suspend their tours to Burma.”

In a further success for the boycott campaign Avalon Publishing, publishers of Moon Handbooks, has told the Burma Campaign UK: “Any future editions of Moon Handbooks: Southeast Asia will not include any coverage of Burma, unless and until there is significant regime change that warrants a return to responsible tourism.”

Tourism is an important source of income for the dictatorship in Burma, providing it with millions of pounds every year. The regime spends forty percent of its annual budget on the army. Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has asked tourists not to visit Burma.

In July this year the British Government backed calls by Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burma Campaign UK for tourists to stay away from Burma. Foreign Office minister Mike O’Brien wrote to all British tour operators asking them to cease tours to Burma.

For more information contact Anna Roberts on 020 7324 4711, or Mark Farmaner, Media Officer, on 020 7324 4713

 


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