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A&K ditches Burma as pressure mounts

HUMAN
rights groups are stepping up pressure on operators to withdraw from Burma
following Abercrombie and Kent’s decision to stop promoting the destination.

Burma
Campaign UK, which is calling for all British companies to halt trade with
Burma, said A&K’s climbdown leaves Orient Express, Carnival Cruises and
Noble Caledonia isolated.

“We
will be stepping up pressure on them to withdraw as well,” said the group’s
campaign officer Anna Roberts.

A&K,
which offers a nine-day tour of Burma, confirmed it would axe Burma product
from its 2004 brochure but, as with Kuoni, which pulled out in May (Travel
Weekly May 5), it claimed the decision was prompted by poor demand, not
pressure from human rights groups.

The
operator added it would continue to sell the destination should customers
request it, insisting it was “not for A&K to dictate matters of
conscience”.

All
clients due to travel to Burma this autumn had expressed no desire to rebook
alternative destinations, the company added.

Other
tour operators selling Burma in their programmes vowed not to back down.

A
spokeswoman for Orient Express, which operates a river cruise in the country,
said: “We employ 150 Burmese people and pay them above the average wage. We
will not walk away from them.”

She
disputed claims from the campaign group that tourist money was subsidising the
military dictatorship, insisting most of the money it paid in tax supported
local communities, not the government.

 

 

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