TUC urges BBC Worldwide to withdraw Lonely Planet Guide to Burma

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date: 2 October 2007

embargo: For immediate release

BBC Worldwide should stop encouraging tourists to visit Burma and indirectly funding its repressive military regime, the TUC said today (Tuesday).

Following the announcement that BBC Worldwide has acquired the travel information group Lonely Planet, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to John Smith, its Chief Executive, urging him to sign up to the campaign for a boycott of all economic links with Burma.

Despite sustained pressure from the Burma Campaign UK and the international trade union movement, Lonely Planet continues to publish its guide to Burma. Other travel publishers such as Rough Guide are refusing to publish a book on Burma so long as the military regime remains in power and Aung San Suu Kyi - leader of the democratically elected National League for Democracy - asks tourists not to visit.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'The people that know the country the best - its trade unions and the Burmese democracy movement - want the world's tourists to stay away from Burma. The Lonely Planet book currently suggests that Burma is a perfectly acceptable holiday destination. But people would be less likely to visit the country if there were no guidebook to help them decide where to go. The BBC should stop promoting holidays to Burma and withdraw the Lonely Planet book immediately.'

The TUC and a number of other organisations including the Burma Campaign UK and Amnesty International are organising a demonstration in central London this Saturday. Demonstrators will gather outside Tate Britain in Millbank, then march to Trafalgar Square for a rally at 1pm.

The TUC is calling for an immediate end to the repression in Burma, an end to the use of forced and child labour (which has been used to develop much of the country's tourist facilities), an economic boycott of the country, and for the UN to mobilise diplomatic pressure from around the world.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The text of the letter to John Smith appears below:

Lonely Planet and Holidays in Burma

I have recently seen the news reports about BBC Worldwide's acquisition of Lonely Planet. I have also, of course, seen the dreadful news on the BBC and elsewhere about the violent response of the Burmese military junta against the peaceful protests of the people.

For some years, Lonely Planet has stood out against world opinion - including the views of the leaders of the three main political parties in the UK as expressed during the last General Election campaign - in promoting holidays in Burma.

The people of Burma (including our brothers and sisters in the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma, the FTUB) have called upon the rest of the world to boycott the economic links with the country which only serve to perpetuate the military dictatorship. The international trade union movement report 'Doing Business In or With Burma' (http://www.ituc-csi.org/?www/PDF/Burma-ICFTUReport-January.pdf) sets out quite clearly the impact of such vacations. Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese democracy movement have asked tourists not to visit Burma because it helps fund the regime and gives it legitimacy. Forced and child labour was used to develop many tourist facilities.

We would therefore urge you to ensure that Lonely Planet desists from promoting holidays in Burma. I would be grateful for your views on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Brendan Barber

TUC General Secretary

Contacts:

Media enquiries: Elly Brenchley T: 020 7467 1337; M: 07900 910624;
E: [email protected]

Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248; M: 07778 158175; E: [email protected]

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