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Arthur Frommer: Should Americans Boycott Nations Intent on One-Party Rule?

The governments of Hungary and Poland continue to destroy the democratic nature of their institutions. 

So do Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (where an American teenager was recently imprisoned on trumped-up charges).  

The sensitive American asks: Should I refuse to visit those nations as a tourist? Should I boycott them, touristically?

In responding to that dilemma, one must immediately acknowledge that it is impossible to be consistent in refusing to withhold our tourism from authoritarian nations.  

China and Russia are dictatorships and yet we continue to visit them without letup. 

Refusing to visit China or Russia will have no effect whatever on their policies. Their economies are not dependent on tourism, or affected by it to any measurable extent. 

That isn’t the case with the nations I’ve earlier listed. I, for one, will not go to Hungary, Poland, Myanmar, or the other dictatorial states.  

To some smaller extent, withholding my touristic dollar from their coffers may cause their authoritarian rulers (or the businesses that support them) to think twice about this betrayal of democratic values.

Pictured: Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest