I don't understand why journalists keep saying things like:
... because of the central role they play in the local tourism industry.
I met heaps of tourists in this area and none were remotely interested in going to a human zoo. It's promoted pretty heavily by the Thai government's tourism office but it doesn't seem very popular.
60 minutes or 20/20 sent some idiotic journalist from NZ last year and she suggested that the province's entire economy was based around the Kayans.
I understand the "long-necks" have been offered asylum in NZ but the Thai government won't give them exit visas because "they're not refugees". However they're not allowed to leave MaeHongson province or get a real job either. It's probably more of a face-saving measure for the govt rather than about how much money they're bringing in.
I went there to visit an anthropologist friend a few years back and when the tourists left the first thing they do is get out their cellphones and motorbikes and ride backwards and forwards across the village. Taking off the spiral neck brace thingy is a fairly time-consuming process.