Myanmar’s end to military rule and new leadership under Aung San Suu Kyi have ushered in a new era of global tourism for the country. Among the results is the American Society of Travel Advisors’ decision to form a new Myanmar chapter and announce its intention to partner with Myanmar tourism on outreach efforts to travel advisors.

At the same time, the country’s forced evacuation of an estimated 900,000 Rohingya Muslims has tarnished the new government and raised ethical questions about traveling there. The controversy also dredges up the old thorny issues surrounding travel boycotts:  Are they effective in changing government policy or do they just hurt the local providers and stifle the flow of outside ideas? Myanmar is an intriguing destination, but should travel advisors be promoting it to their clients just now? There’s no simple answer.

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Any suggestions for the coverage you would like to see are welcome. Feel free to contact me at mbl@skift.com.

— Maria Lenhart, Travel Advisor Editor

Featured Stories

Travel Association Forms Myanmar Chapter But Will the Government Benefit? ASTA’s new Myanmar chapter and planned partnership with Myanmar tourism will give travel advisors new opportunities to learn about an emerging destination. However, it also raises ethical concerns about supporting a country that engages in ethnic cleansing.

Disney Is Expanding Its Shanghai Theme Park Again: Disney has been talking about expanding its Shanghai theme park complex since before the doors officially opened. Despite a rough patch last year, the company is clearly optimistic about the market’s future.

ASTA Is Giving the Entire Travel Industry Advice on an Important Rebrand: The letter ASTA sent was overly ambitious and a little dramatic, but ultimately a smart move and way overdue.

Airlines

American Airlines Opens Premium Economy Award Booking to Fill a Gap: American Airlines wasn’t first to the party when it launched award seat availability for its international premium economy product. But it was the most transparent.

Southwest CEO: We Won’t Introduce Basic Economy: Southwest has known for years that there is money to be made in differentiation and protecting your brand identity regardless of what Wall Street thinks. That’s a factor in its decision not to launch basic economy or bag fees.

American Airlines Has a Customer Satisfaction Problem: American Airlines President Robert Isom said customer satisfaction may be declining because the airline has not been as reliable as it should be. Is that the entire problem?

Alaska Airlines Works Fast to Erase Memories of Virgin America: It can take some airlines as long as a decade after a merger before they truly operate as one entity. But Alaska Airlines is working much faster to gobble up Virgin America. Part of that is because both carriers were relatively small. But by any standard, Alaska is moving quickly.

Aviation Complications Likely Spurred Move to Reopen U.S. Government: Let’s say the aviation industry hadn’t been affected by the government shutdown. Would President Trump have moved to reopen the government? Probably not. But aviation is important, and no one wanted to see more delays and cancellations.

Ex-United President Is Selected as CEO to Lead IndiGo Into a New Era: IndiGo’s appointment of veteran airline CEO Ronojoy Dutta to lead its aggressive expansion, particularly into new long-haul territory, is a fresh departure from the woes of non-happening Air India or Jet Airways.

Tourism

Global Tourism Growth Slowed in 2018 But Arrivals Still Hit 1.4 Billion: Travelers are still exploring the world, but growth has cooled slightly.

UK Tourism Has a Europe Problem: Decline in Visitors From the Continent: The UK might have seen a fall in tourists in 2018, but that has a lot to do with the extraordinary growth the year before. The longer-term trend is for steady growth as long as Brexit doesn’t get in the way.

Skift Travel Advisor Editor Maria Lenhart [mbl@skift.com] curates the Skift Travel Advisor Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Tuesday. Have a story idea? Or a juicy news tip? Want to share a memo? Send her an email.

Photo Credit: Pictured are Buddhist nuns of the Theravada (meaning the Ancient Teaching) on August 30, 2012 in Mandalay, Myanmar. ASTA formed a chapter in Myanmar. Staffan Scherz / Flickr