My experience was that it was seen as an incredibly beneficial thing by the Burmese when I disclosed that I was in the country to participate in a long meditation course. On my first day in Myanmar I went to Botataung Paya with four senior american assistant teachers - it contains a hair-relic of the Buddha. I remember paying respects to a Buddharupa and a young Burmese couple were pointing at me with delightful curiosity, talking quietly to each other and smiling. I think Burmese people are genuinely very eager to share their culture and the Dhamma with sincere practitioners from abroad. It was very easy for me to get a 'pilgrimage letter' from VMC Dhammajoti which indicated that I was also on pilgrimage and it allowed me free entry into most of the places of interest inc. Shwedagon, Mandalay Hill, Mahamuni temple &etc. When I showed the pilgrimage letter there was usually a conversation about what I had seen, where I was going and the meditation course I was on. Within the community of the U Ba Khin and Goenka 'tradition', my intention to be in the country to sit a long course and do a short yatra - it just seemed to open doors for me.
Figures such as Sayagi U Ba Khin, "The Anagamin" Saya Thetgyi, and Ledi Sayadaw are very well known. SN Goenka is well known, but doesn't yet have the stellar reputation of his predecessors. He has established eighteen centres in Myanmar and there are three separate and concurrent prison programs in operation which have produced incredible results.
Perhaps it was that document that you shared with me on mental culture and the politics of crisis management in Burma that mentioned that Ledi Sayadaw was supported and became popular with the court of King Mindon in Mandalay. I wish I had finished reading it before I went to Burma, but...time (or lack of it)!