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The ethics of choosing to visit a repressive country like Myanmar

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I posted this over in the lounge but then realized that many people will not have access to the lounge. So, I've decided to post this general question here as well since Myanmar is the example I used.



I am torn, especially since the trip to Myanmar we just took. We really liked Myanmar and loved connecting with people whose lives have been difficult and who are now earning a living off the tourist economy. But, we were also conflicted (before, during and after our trip) because, even though we tried when possible to do otherwise, a portion of our money definitely also went to the "former" leaders of the country who control so many things and financially benefit from guests in the country. And, there are very significant human rights abuses occurring as the Rohingya minority are persecuted in Myanmar. Now, I also just read an article about horrible abuses in the jade mining industry. http://time.com/battling-for-blood-jade/

Obviously, this is but one example of a country where would-be travelers might have to think more than once about supporting the country through a tourist visit. What are your thoughts? Sustainable tourism (the type we try to engage in) does help the average guy and a lot of people now have jobs precisely because people like us choose to visit. But, visiting a country like this can also give the impression that the visitor does not care about repression, dictatorships, financial gain by the wealthy and powerful. And, those powerful people do gain financially.

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