Skift Take

Rather than boycotting travel to Myanmar entirely, a more responsible form of tourism would be to avoid unethical establishments while supporting good practices on the ground.

Few countries have seen their tourism fortunes change as fast as Myanmar. The once-isolated country became a tourism darling within a few years after its opening in 2010, and expectations were once high that Myanmar could in time become a serious contender to regional tourism stalwart Thailand.

That did not happen, of course. Many visitors, particularly Western tourists, soon turned their backs on Myanmar over its treatment of the minority Rohingya Muslim population. Myanmar tourism received a swift knock-out blow as visitor numbers plunged, derailing any plans and momentum the nascent sector had made in recent years.

But the tourism tide appears to reverse again for Myanmar as international attention on the Rohingya crisis wanes. In the story below, Skift Editor-at-Large Raini Hamdi takes a look at why tourism businesses are anticipating the new wave, having taken the recent downturn to invest in creating new experiences and accommodations, particularly in remote and less-developed parts of the country.

Still, the question remains: To visit or not to visit? The decision is often an ethical one for many travelers, although ample literature suggests that boycotts, in tourism or elsewhere, seldom achieve their intended outcomes or change behaviors.

So, why not go? Spending time in Myanmar, and engagement with its people, is far likelier to leave lasting, positive impacts in the country.

— Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, Skift Asia Editor, [email protected], @xinyi_pholsena

Skift Stories and More Expert Insights

Myanmar Tourism Gets a Second Chance: Is It Ready for It? Ethical tourism made Myanmar a lost tourism frontier in Southeast Asia. But people are forgetting the genocide, giving the destination another crack.

Coronavirus Crisis Exposes Low-Tech Achilles’ Heel of Tours and Attractions in Asia: For many players in Asia’s tours and activities space, dealing with mounting coronavirus cancellations is proving to be a pain point without the aid of robust technology systems in place. This crisis will be a sharp reminder that digitalization is the way to go.

Oyo’s losses grew more than six-fold in fiscal year 2019. Photo: Oyo

Oyo’s Annual Losses Ballooned to $335 million in 2019: Oyo appears to be taking its once-explosive global expansion strategy down a few notches, and that could be a good thing for the young company in the face of still-uncertain impacts from the coronavirus and the reputational damage it recently suffered. These losses aren’t pretty.

Building an Indonesian Lifestyle Brand From the Ground Up: Lifestyle brands can feel like the forced product of one too many focus groups. Potato Head is the opposite: It’s an Indonesian-born lifestyle brand that has been slowly built from the ground up with an emphasis on community, art, and culture.

Tripadvisor Forecasts Experiences and Dining Will Eclipse Hotel Revenue in 2020: When Tripadvisor first started diversifying away from its hotel-auction business several years ago, it was mostly aspirational because its experiences and dining businesses were relatively small. Now there is a bit of revenue meat on those bones. Still, meaningful profits will be slow going in this competitive climate.

Wyndham’s China Coronavirus Woes: 70 Percent of Hotels Closed: Wyndham Hotels and Resorts has closed about 1,000 of its hotels in China because of coronavirus. Those that remain are welcoming fewer guests. The outbreak continues to wreak havoc on the travel industry.

Carnival Corp. Downgrades Earnings Guidance as Diamond Princess Remains Quarantined: The cruise industry’s operations in Asia are being battered by coronavirus, with Carnival Corp. in a particularly tough spot.

Asia Editor Xinyi Liang-Pholsena [[email protected]] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

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Tags: asia, coronavirus, lifestyle hotels, myanmar, oyo, skift asia weekly, tours and activities, tripadvisor

Photo credit: Yangon is home to some of the most impressive colonial architecture in Southeast Asia. Tim Proffitt-White / Flickr

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