Hanoi Hilton

Kurlantzick, Joshua
June 2003
New Republic;6/2/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 21, p12
Focuses on authoritarian states such as Singapore and Burma as travel destinations during a period of increased concerns about travel to countries linked with terrorism. As terrorism and war have fostered global anxiety, authoritarian governments are luring tourists in droves. Unlike the Philippines, the authoritarian-minded city-state is not known for beaches--unless you count Sentosa, a man-made resort where the beach looks out onto an industrial port. Since September 11, 2001, fear has loomed much larger in many people's travel planning. The October 2002 bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali expanded the zone of fear to Southeast Asia. Travelers also have reconsidered holidays in Thailand and the Philippines, emerging democracies struggling to respect civil liberties while combating militants--a struggle that has at times resulted in shoddy police work. Even Burma, one of the world's most isolated and brutal countries--whose military has allegedly committed mass rapes of ethnic minority women--has launched a tourism campaign over the past three years promoting their new international airport in Mandalay, its second-largest city. The United States State Department unwittingly abets these authoritarian regimes' comparative advantage by issuing travel advisories. It is true that there have been no incidents of Islamic terrorism in Burma, Laos, or Vietnam. But authoritarian countries face a different, unappreciated source of tourism-threatening instability: their own people.


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