Woke up to the news of another act of terrorism. This time again in the city that I so love- Istanbul! I remember having a conversation with my parents before my trip, they were particularly nervous about letting me go there thanks to the frequent unrest, ISIS conflicts and regular bombings across the city. What if I got stuck or struck by one of the attacks there?
I replied, "What if the same happened to me here in Mumbai. We too have seen many train and bus bombings, of course the 26/11 Attacks too. Are we really safe in any corner of the world? Do we stop living? Do we stop traveling out of fear?"
I managed to get them to let me go. All went well! But of course, they were scared.
Terrorism has time and again struck an unnerving dent in humanity. Does that take away our right to live the way we do? Terrorism always targets the innocent. Not long before the Istanbul Airport Attacks, we have witnessed brutal acts causing disturbing pictures in the form of the Paris, Istanbul and Brussels attacks and more. Of the noteworthy aspects of these destinations is the fact that they account for some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. So does terrorism become a roadblock for tourism?
Over the last few months, there has been an increased discussion over the rise of the tourism industry. The economic boom and globalization have created various opportunities for people of all segments of the society to travel. As a result, there is also an increase in the travel start-up zone where more and more services to simplify travel have penetrated the market. International Travel has begun to settle in India. Over 1.1 billion people across the globe have travelled to international destinations in 2014.
“More and more people today want to travel to international destinations. However, it’s political imbalance and fear of terrorism that create doubts.” Says travel consultant, Parichay Mehta.
Countries like France, China, Italy, and Turkey are the most visited countries in the world. Egypt is the third most visited Middle Eastern country by international tourists.
Talking of Indians, does our exposure to terrorism attacks make us less considerate about the issues?
Travel blogger, Mridula Dwivedi voiced her concerns, “Recently while I was at a crowded concert I unnecessarily thought, ‘what if something happened? The place was so crowded!’ A common person goes through so much hassle.”
Advertising professional Sudeep Shukla backed the same saying, ”A lot of my plans have been cancelled due to violent nature of countries or chance of risking my life. I have not faced any violence towards me but due to my skin color have been called a Pakistani or looked down upon.”
It’s evident that when seasoned travelers who take a trip every few months face such dilemmas, it means a lot more concern to a man traveling with his family once a year. It would be unfair though to state that traveling is unsafe or that even such developed nations lack the means of security. Terrorism has a major agenda of instilling fear than really causing as much damage.
“A lot of people are nowadays avoiding any sort of travel to places they are told are dangerous. The media and events around us shape their views. Take Tunisia and Turkey for example. These are really wonderful, hospitable people, amazing history and culture, and generally very safe. A couple of terrorist attacks have put a huge dent on their tourism industry. Even the most anxious person needs to only step foot in Istanbul or Tunisia for an hour to quickly have their worries disappear” testifies Bahador Alast, an Irani mine engineer from Canada. He adds, “Interestingly enough, major cities in Iran, for all the bad press the country gets, are some of the safest and comfortable places out there.”
True to the word, on many occasions situations are blown out of proportion by media. The world is not as bad a place as we think of it to be. Strangers can be trusted to be of big help while traveling abroad. Cities on a daily basis are a lot more secure than we think we know they are.
In one of my conversations with travel writer Amrita Dass, she tells me, ”The best part about travel is that it brings people closer-to places and other people. Every time I hear a destination hit by terror, I'm always amazed at their audacity, their guts to try and tear us apart. Do they really think that infusing fear will make us travel less? On the contrary, my love for Paris has grown a 100-fold, Brussels suddenly seems more urgent on the list of places to be and Pathankot and Kashmir deserve yet another visit. We're truly undermining how love and travel work together.”
To which, photographer Riddhi Parekh adds, “Travelling has made me a global citizen and broadened my perspective. I have partied and travelled with people from all the countries. I wish if terrorist travelled more and saw how beautiful the world is they would never feel the need to hate it so much.”
That’s a lot of wishful thinking! How we wish the world could experience this side of the story. While it’s not as difficult as we are made to see, it’s not always a shallow surface.
Travel aficionado Meghana Nair stresses on having some basic research in place.
- Research on the place you plan to visit.
- Check out for issues prevailing/ brewing etc.
- Avoid visiting a destination immediately after a mishap.
- Let time pass.
- Also be open to changing plans and be flexible while your travel. Embrace new adventures.
Urban Design student Alev Kara revealed, “It angers me to see governments asking their folks to stay indoors. These are beautiful places that stand for values like love, integrity, and historical pride. We’d be giving to wrong ideologies if we stayed away from these beautiful places. I won’t stop, and I’d urge the rest to keep traveling as well.”
So avoiding travel is definitely not the answer to this. Despite of the drop in tourism rates of the terror struck countries, it’s interesting to note that France, Turkey, Egypt are some of the most popular tourist destinations across the globe. The total number of tourists for these 3 destinations alone was over 125million in 2014 despite the drops.
The need and desire to travel is synonymous to that of working to earn a living. Fortunately so, we have been gifted with a planet full of amazing places to discover. There will always be a risk of life, of disasters, of accidents or getting lost. But what keeps things under control is preparedness alone. You don’t have to cancel your Kashmir trip out of fear. Plan well instead? Take that trip to Paris, Istanbul, Egypt and wherever you wish to visit. The next time you plan to cancel your trip, remember the reason, the surface and study the core of the situation before you take your call. Happy traveling!
This article was first published on Awara Diaries