Following its success last week in persuading Europe’s sixth-largest travel firm Kuoni to pull out of Burma, the charity has released a statement saying: ‘We will now be turning our attention to Orient Express, one of the last significant tour operators left in Burma.’
Orient Express is just one of around 60 companies on the charity’s list of firms that invest in the country. Burma’s ruling regime is labelled by the charity as one of the most oppressive in the world.
Within weeks, representatives of Burma Campaign UK will attempt to meet with senior staff at Orient Express – the Sea Containers-owned firm best known for its train services – to urge it to stop running its Road to Mandalay cruise ship in the country.
The charity will also tell the firm it has compiled a report of Orient Express’s activities in Burma, details of which will be released as part of a media relations offensive.
Burma Campaign UK media officer Mark Farmaner said: ‘We will explain the situation in Burma and ask them [Orient Express] politely to pull out. If they do not, then we will run a full-scale campaign against them.’
He said the same tactics were used with Kuoni, which announced its decision to withdraw before the threat of a media relations offensive was put into action.
Orient Express PR manager for trains and cruises Kathryn Malone said: ‘The company employs some 150 Burmese people, to whom it also gives training, secure employment and prospects of advancement.
‘Orient Express… takes the view that opening up countries to tourism and interaction between ordinary people is a positive move.’
She added that any decision to mount a counter-offensive media campaign would be taken in private.