Frommer Watch: Boycott Burma?

Thursday, May 21, 2009


In this week’s installment of one of’s most popular and closely followed recurring columns, “Frommer Watch,” we find the godfather of globe-trotting in his daily blog calling for a boycott of travel to Burma in the wake of that country’s ruling military junta’s recent trial of pro-democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Frommer goes further, calling out visitors to the country, accusing their travel dollars of helping to prop-up and support the oppressive government.

Not surprisingly, this assertion kicked up quite a lively debate from his readers (the biggest in a while) on the question of whether travel to a non-democratic country is in fact immoral (or at least unjustifiable).

Wayne from New Zealand argues in the reader comments section that the economy is dependent on tourism, and that no tourism means no food on the table for many people of Burma.

This elicited an unusually harsh reaction from Arthur (come on Wayne, you should know better than to mess with the F-man):

Dear Wayne: Your recital of statements supposedly made to you by the people of Burma–“we’d like people to tell our stories”–shows a pitiful acceptance of the false stories spread by the military thugs who rule that country . . . Your claim that “not all the hotels are in the thrall of the military dictators” is absurd; every penny you spend in Burma supports the regime. These are positions that are morally bankrupt, and I would hope that you would re-examine your defense of evil, and come to realize how you have swallowed whole the flimsy arguments of what are perhaps the worst military scoundrels in the world today. Arthur Frommer.

Ouch, “Defense of evil?” I told you Wayne, be careful with whom you choose to pick a fight with. Anyway, from there this debate on ethical travel continued and is just waiting for more comments. To show your support for Arthur or, god forbid, you feel like venting your disagreement, check out the full post and comments here.

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