If you were thinking about heading to Burma during your next vacation, you aren’t the only one.
It turns out that everybody and their mom has decided to hop on flights to the country since Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the democratically elected Burmese government, softened her stance on tourism last year.
Though elected by the people, Suu Kyi was on house arrest by the military regime from 1989 to 2010. She asked that people not visit the country due to human rights abuses inflicted by the regime, which is funded in part by tourist dollars.
One tour company noted bookings have doubled since last year, according to a recent article on The Telegraph’s travel site. Suu Kyi called for “ethical” tourists to visit, which could benefit Burma if they “avoided facilities with close links to the military government.”
Burma has a long history of political oppression, child labor, and human trafficking, but at the same time is a beautiful country with rich ecosystems. The preservation of the environment is due, at least in part, to slow economic growth and a lack of infrastructure.
Traveling in Burma is not necessarily easy, but at 135 recognized ethnic groups, the range of people and languages is astounding. Most of the country is Buddhist, and in the villages, the monastery is the center of village life.
Though Burma is the second largest country in Southeast Asia, last year it only had 300,000 overseas visitors to Thailand’s 19 million. It’ll be interesting to see how many people visit in 2012.