Shun Myanmar’s military, not the people

YANGON, 4 March 2021: A hotelier responds to our recent op-ed, adding insights on the need for due diligence to ensure international travel and hospitality companies partner with people in Myanmar who want to make their country a better place.  

“I have read with interest your article “Should hotel brands shed JVs in Myanmar?” (https://www.ttrweekly.com/site/2021/03/should-hotel-brands-shed-jvs-in-myanmar/)

“I do believe that tourism can bring sustainable development for people in a country. It is indeed important to look at ALL SDG’s, so not only the environment and global warming but also the aspects that benefit the People and includes providing a livable salary, standing up against injustice and human rights abuses, especially in a country like Myanmar.

“Based on my experience in the hotel business in Myanmar, I want to emphasise two takeaways in response to your op-ed article.”

Beware of connected cash

“International hotels or tour operators should NOT boycott or shun Myanmar (or any country for that matter) but be far more careful when choosing their local business partner. Don’t choose a person because he/she is “well connected” or has loads of cash to co-invest but choose him/her based on attitude, principles, values and character.”

Dig deep to find honest partners

“Always search for suppliers (hotels, travel agencies, airlines) that actively try to make their community a better place and take care of People and the Planet.

“By doing so, you will most likely find suppliers that are NOT connected to the military or its cronies anyway. Instead, you will be able to find honest entrepreneurs with integrity who try to make a living while making their country a better place.

Family names don’t exist in Myanmar, so it’s more difficult to find out to whom a potential business partner is related and how he/she made their money.

“It’s also common to appoint a “proxy”, which could be a family member or family friend to hide the true identity of a business owner, so you have to dig a bit deeper and ask around. Many official documents in Myanmar ask for the father’s name to identify a person, and it’s common to ask the occupation of the parents; start doing the same!

“Overall, boycotts for the whole country will hurt the very people that are currently standing up for the injustice of stealing the elections and shooting peaceful demonstrators. Don’t turn your back to the country but actively support the People.”

A Myanmar hotelier (Name withheld on request)

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