Extreme tourism trend in Africa could extend to Middle East

One of the most difficult challenges for the global travel and tourism industry is to keep pace with consumer trends. As more airlines fly to more destinations and air travel becomes relatively affordable, the world has become a smaller place, as they say.

  • E-Mail
By  Gemma Greenwood Published  November 14, 2006

|~|Holiday-Inn-Beirut-large.gif|~|The war-ravaged Holiday Inn Hotel, Lebanon: many Middle East countries offer extreme tourism opportunities for travellers seeking insight into a country's turbulent history.|~|One of the most difficult challenges for the global travel and tourism industry is to keep pace with consumer trends. As more airlines fly to more destinations and air travel becomes relatively affordable, the world has become a smaller place, as they say. Low cost airlines have created a new breed of travellers that holiday six or seven times a year, and increasingly the tourist who has ‘been there, done that’, is no longer content with two weeks on the beach and a couple of daytime excursions thrown in for good measure. Frequent travellers are becoming more knowledgeable and adventurous. They shun mainstream packages in favour of tailor made and off-the-beaten track ‘experiences’. Some are even seeking trips to semi-dangerous locations and making radical travel plans. This trend was identified in a Global Trends Report presented by market intelligence company, Euromonitor International, at World Travel Market, which took place in London earlier this month. It claimed that a growing number of tourists are making itineraries out of travel warnings and relying on blogs and user-generated content sites to organise their ‘danger trip’. The report said that Africa, more than any other region, was well placed to serve this developing niche sector, which it dubbed ‘extreme tourism’. By providing daring tourists with thrill-seeking and adrenalin-fuelled experiences, Africa has the opportunity to diversify its product, which to date, has relied heavily on nature tourism. Furthermore, travel and tour operators could charge a premium for this type of niche product. Some of the destinations cited by Euromonitor as ‘safe danger’ tourism hot spots included the prison where Nelson Mandela was held or the site of the Rwanda genocide. Sierra Leone on Africa’s West Coast was proposed as a possible ‘extreme tourism’ destination, where armed guards could escort tourists around no-go areas in volatile cities. If such unique travel experiences could be developed in Africa, then why not in the Middle East, a region with a turbulent past and present? Of course, such reality tourism would need to be approached with sensitivity to avoid sensationalising unpleasant historical events, but it could work for countries such as Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon and Palestine. Why not tell the story of these nations? How they have suffered, survived and remained rich in culture and history. It may seem a controversial proposition at first, but it could fill a gap in the market for extreme tourism, earn these nations big bucks, and in some cases, completely regenerate their travel and tourism industries. E-mail your news and views to gemma.greenwood@itp.com.||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code