Traveling can be political, and as reported by the BBC last September, guidebooks even more so. The current political situation in Burma is so highly charged that Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC) is asking travelers to stop buying Lonely Planet’s guide to Burma in order to encourage the company to withdraw the book from the market.
The TUC along with Tourism Concern, Burma Campaign UK and the New Internationalist launched an online petition on Thursday calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Lonely Planet guidebook because “holidaying in Burma is one of the most unethical trips you could make, given the brutality of the current regime,” as New Internationalist co-editor Chris Brazier explained.
This brings into question what role tourism plays on the political scene. Both the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese unions have asked travelers not to visit their country as long as the military regime is in power. Lonely Planet however believes that travel choices should be left up to the tourists themselves and that publishing a guide on Burma “does not of itself represent support or otherwise for the current regime.”
What do you think? Should Lonely Planet withdraw its Burma guidebook?