During the last few weeks, we have all been made aware of the awful situation that has happened in the northern Rohingya state in Myanmar. Here at Rickshaw, we were shocked to hear what has been happening and we wanted to acknowledge the situation before going further onto our stance regarding visiting Myanmar as a holiday destination.
Myanmar as a country has had a vast and troubling history, and the Rohingya area has been particularly troubled, even in recent years and has been off-limits to tourists since the country’s opening to tourism. It’s beyond the scope of this article to go into further detail but needless to say, it’s an awful situation. It has led to lengthy discussions at Rickshaw, including safety and the ethics of visiting Myanmar.
Meaningful Travel to us is about immersive experiences that bring you closer and support local communities, wildlife and the environment in a respectful, safe way. We felt it could be a knee-jerk reaction to boycott Myanmar, creating an even larger negative impact on a country that since recently opening to the world now relies heavily on tourism. Boycotts are most likely to impact the poorest members of society (the owner of a homestay, the local artist or fisherman), rather than the ruling elite or government in power.
The majority of the country is still safe, welcoming, beautiful and loving and we respect the FCO’s advice which considers the country to be mainly ‘Green’ (which means it’s safe to travel).
We believe that travel can be of huge social and environmental benefit and we aim not only to minimise the harm that tourism can do but to go one step further and maximise the benefit. We strive to help preserve and support world communities of every description, to ensure our trips are sustainable and responsible as well as authentic. Myanmar is no different; we only offer locally owned accommodation and only use local guides, for example, a stay in a mountain lodge with a local community to learn more about the hill tribes culture, and supplementing their income directly. We also support HEAL Kids to help educate and support vulnerable children.
“I would implore anyone dreaming of this magical land to not allow the current situation to disenchant them from exploring the temples of Bagan, the stilted villages of Lake Inle, or any of the other wonderful communities and welcoming people. Together, we can make a difference.” Paul Speller – Myanmar Travel Specialist
But don’t just take our word for it, our Ramblers Sue and Paul got back mid-October from visiting Myanmar with Rickshaw and this was their feedback:
“Wanted to say a big thank you for organising our trip to Myanmar and Thailand. Everything went so well and we had fantastic time and really enjoyed ourselves. Very quiet out there which was great for us, in fact on the lake there were just four guests. The guides were so lovely, very knowledgeable and friendly, always spot on time and often early, which we always are as well so suited us. All of the transfers worked very smoothly and no delays. Thank you so much Paul for organising it all for us.”
So, if you are considering visiting Myanmar, doing it the Rickshaw way helps ensure that your money is going to the people who live and work there. Directly to small businesses, hotels, private drivers & local artisans, these are the people who will take the impact of boycotting this incredible country.
We’ve decided to not turn our backs on Myanmar, and we hope you will join us in supporting the tourism industry and people who live there.