Thai Broadcaster Promotes Myanmar Junta’s Tourism Campaign

By The Irrawaddy 15 September 2022

A Thai military-run broadcaster is helping to disseminate Myanmar junta propaganda aimed at bringing tourists back to the military-ruled country, even as the regime continues its widespread atrocities against civilians.

Myanmar junta-controlled state media on Wednesday announced the premiere of a travel documentary, titled “The Exclusive”, filmed in Yangon and Naypyitaw, on Thailand’s Channel 5.

Channel 5, owned by the Royal Thai Army, is broadcasting the travel show every Saturday night in Thailand.

Production of the travel show is being arranged by the junta’s Hotel and Tourism Ministry. One episode focused on attractions in the junta’s administrative capital, Naypyitaw, including a 16-lane highway, the Defense Services Museum and the Gems Museum.

According to junta media, upcoming episodes will focus on Bagan and Mandalay.

During a visit to Naypyitaw, representatives of Thai media outlets, Thailand’s Best International travel agency and the Sai Swe company met with junta Hotels and Tourism Minister U Htay Aung on July 31.

U Htay Aung said he believes the TV show will contribute to the promotion of Myanmar tourism by sharing “experiences and real situations in the country” and hopes to see more tourists arrive, according to the ministry’s report.

More than a year after it staged a coup, the junta announced plans to reopen for tourism and resume international flights in April this year in an attempt to show that Myanmar is returning to normalcy under its rule.

More than 2,270 people have died at the hands of junta forces and 15,500 have been arrested, while 1.4 million people have been displaced.

The junta’s arbitrary arrests, killings, burning of villages and bombing of civilian targets continue in Myanmar on a daily basis.

Activist groups have raised issues of safety and point out that visitors would fund the oppressive regime through visa fees, insurance and tax, even if they are able to avoid hotels and transport owned by the military and their associates. They have called for a boycott of tourism under the junta.

Myanmar closed its borders like many other countries in early 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Before that, the country had more than 4.36 million tourists a year.

The junta’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism said the country received 42,315 foreign tourists between April and June after the resumption of international commercial flights in April. According to the ministry, China, India and Thailand were the biggest sources of tourist arrivals.