Travel company defends Burma tours

A TRAVEL company from Suffolk has defended itself after being included on a "name and shame" list drawn up by Burma Campaign UK.Tim Knight, managing director of Eastravel in Norwich Road, Ipswich, said that although the company had been targeted by the campaign, it would stand its ground.

A TRAVEL company from Suffolk has defended itself after being included on a "name and shame" list drawn up by Burma Campaign UK.

Tim Knight, managing director of Eastravel in Norwich Road, Ipswich, said that although the company had been targeted by the campaign, it would stand its ground.

The campaign published its Dirty List this week, which it says identifies companies that directly or indirectly help to finance the military dictatorship in Burma.

The catalogue claims Eastravel operates tours to the country, where many of the holiday facilities were developed using child and slave labour.

It says Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has asked tourists not to visit Burma because it helps fund the regime and gives it legitimacy.

But Mr Knight said Eastravel has no direct or indirect business interests in Burma and does not operate any tours to the country.

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He said: "While we have no respect for the military regime in Burma, our company includes Burma as a travel destination along with many others because it is there, and because we have had clients who wished to visit the country for their own reasons."

Mr Knight said people had a right to choose where they want to travel, as long as it is safe to do so.

"All travel to Burma has been organised expressly upon the instructions of travellers who might wish us to organise an individual itinerary especially for them and in accordance with their instructions. However we make every effort to ensure that our bookings are made with non-State organisations

and that the money goes to the people," he added.

The list includes 78 British companies or companies with a significant presence in Britain. Its counterpart, the Clean List, names organisations that have decided not to trade with Burma, such as Marks and Spencer.

John Jackson, director of the campaign, said: "Foreign investment and trade can benefit developing countries, but in Burma it helps finance a regime that uses violence to oppress its own people.

"Most companies will not get involved with Burma because of the ethical issues involved."

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