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Burma Tourist's nationality

Dear Burma readers,

When I was visiting Burma last summer I was surprised about the
nationalities of the tourists I met. Normally you meet a lot of German,
American, Dutch, Australian people when travelling. In Burma it was
different. This time I met Italian, Spanish and a lot of French and Belgian
tourists. Not one single American, English or Aussie. At least about
Belgians - I'm a Belgian - I can tell you normally don't meet them abroad.
The majority of Belgians stays inside for holiday. The more adventurous ones
don't go further than Spain, Greece or France. (They are friendly for the
environment, aren't they ?) 

The tourists I met often didn't behave very responsible. Without any doubt
there are also Anglo-saxon and Asian tourists seeing Burma as one big
holiday parc and maybe it was an accident I saw an Italian girl, drunken,
wildly dancing before the Ananda temple in Pagan on the radiotunes of very
Italian and very loud popmusic. The next day I "meet" a group of brown
Spanish boys visiting Pagan almost nude.

For the French, Italian, Spanish, ... travelling is even more difficult than
it is for Anglo-Saxon people. There isn't any kind of communication with the
Burmese people since these tourists often can't even speak English. So they
don't read the SLORC slogans on the street. Travelling to Burma becomes mere
"consuming", more than for other tourists. Burmese become "they" people, far
away from their holiday scope. This kind of tourist is wanted by SLORC !

While hunderds of Belgians seem to enter and return from Burma, in Belgium
Burma stays to be one of the most forgotten countries. The information about
Burma is very limited and of a very poor quality. For the great majority
Aung San Suu Kyi stays to be 'a never heard of' person. There's no glimpse
of an anti-Pepsi or Anti-Heineken campaign (although Belgians by accident
prefer Coca Cola and their home made beers). Until now I haven't met one
single Belgian tourist, motivated to become a human rights activist or Burma

(It's true: when I'm talking about "the" French and "the" Belgians, I'm
using stereotypes and this is very dangerous. However) I'm very interested
to have an answer on these questions.

1.Is it true relative more (Southern) European people are entering touristic
Burma ? Are there any SLORC or non-SLORC figures indicating the
nationalities of the tourists ? Do other people also have met crowds of
French and Belgian people?

2. What is the reason of this rather unusual nationalities' chart ? The
successfull 'visit Myanmar year boycot" in the US, UK and Germany ? Has it
something to do with the Latin culture, Burma attracting other kinds of
tourists ? Is it a strategy of SLORC to focus on South Europe ?

3. What are the implications for the Burma supporters in Europe ? Are there
any suggestions for other kinds of campaigns ?

Thank you for reading my first contribution.


Kris Deckers

KWIA Steungroep Inheemse Volkeren - KWIA Supportgroup for Indigenous peoples
- KWIA Grupo de Apoyo para los Pueblos Indigenas
Breughelstraat 31-33, 2018 Antwerpen, BELGIUM
Tel. 32-3-2188488
Fax  32-3-2304540