THE best help the trade can give Myanmar is to encourage tourists to visit the cyclone-hit destination because, unlike foreign aid, which is only a temporary relief, the tourist dollar trickles down to the small businesses and individuals who need it the most and can use it to rebuild their lives, tour operators say.

Arguing that tourism is one of the few industries that can make an immediate difference, Myanmar operators stress that downtown Yangon, the only tourist area affected by cyclone Nargis which struck on May 2 and 3, is virtually back to normal; getting tourist visas is not an issue; there are no health or safety issues; and with May and June being the low season, Myanmar's popular tourist sites are naturally quiet with no queues and most hotels are desperate for business to help them pay staff.