The Burmese junta, in search of foreign currencies, seeks to attract tourists

Burma is not just a military dictatorship, where around 20,000 political prisoners are held, most of whom are tortured. It is also a “world of light, of art, of living legends, of rediscovered calm that leads to serenity”we can read Clio agency websitebased in Paris and specializing in cultural trips, organizing a stay there in January 2024. On the program: a visit to Pagan and its “10,000 pagodas” or a trip on the Irrawaddy River.

Almost three years after the military coup of 1er February 2021, which brought down the Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi, the junta, in search of foreign currency, seeks to attract tourists from all over the world. For the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which ends in March, the country granted around 370 thousand tourist visas, an increase of 187% compared to the previous year. Visitors mainly from China, Russia, India and the Middle East. A number still far from the four million tourists received every year before the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the Show IFTM-Top Resa, aimed at professionals in the sector and organized in Paris from October 3 to 5, the tourism agencies present in the Thai pavilion – there was no Burmese stand – discreetly promoted Burma. On social media, the French federation Les Entreprises du voyage even published photos of the country, before removing them, without giving explanations.

Need for military financing

French non-governmental organization (NGO) Info Burmanie is concerned that this promotion of tourism “normalizes the situation in the country while legitimizing the junta”according to its coordinator, Johanna Chardonnieras, who choked up when reading an article published by Le FigaroFebruary 19, titled “When to go to Burma? Weather, climate… The best periods by region”.

In March, the NGO contacted the Journalistic Ethics and Mediation Council (CDJM) to report a “a variation of the advertising propaganda that the military junta is currently using, with a view to from a country full of fire and blood to a tourist destination ».

The appeal to the CDJM ended up being declared unfounded and Le Figaro added a paragraph of context about the 2021 coup, clarifying that any travel there ” not recommended “. “This article is part of a long list of generic publications whose aim is simply to offer practical services, such as the best travel dates, in as many destinations around the world as possible”puts Marc Feuillée, general director of the Le Figaro group, into perspective, adding that“it was not ordered by any tourist office”.

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