In the wake of the downing of Metrojet which left 224 people dead the UK Foreign Office compiled a list of dangerous places which should not be visited.
The list contains 18 countries and a subsidiary list, which is considerably larger, contains countries that are partially dangerous.
With travellers becoming fatigued by the more common countries to vacation in, there has been a surge in people exploring the lesser known and visited parts of the world. North Korea that was once feared and comically ridiculed has become a hive for tourists wishing to explore a nation that doesn’t require a race to claim sun loungers. North Korea has become so confident with its sharp increase in tourists that by 2017 they expect to welcome 1 million to its land.
Is North Korea dangerous to visit? Absolutely not. North Korea is actually one of the safest places to visit as a tourist. Being escorted by government officials at all time and with a population that is unlikely to harm foreigners North Korea is actually a stress free trip regarding safety, despite what people would say.
It’s this kind of thinking and assertions regarding a place that make people scared to visit. People must actually realise that some of those presumptions are misguided. There is harm in being misguided as so many countries rely on tourism as a means to create income.
After the crisis in Egypt the UK and Russia began evacuating its nationals so that they could be returned home, but this was a miscalculated decision. The downing of one plane that, at the time, had yet to be determined as to how it crashed does not need to cause fear within people. The attack was isolated and should not be used as propaganda to scare away tourists from Egypt.
I visited Egypt a little after the Egyptian revolution and throughout my travels a common theme emerged; the Egyptian people were thankful to us. They were grateful to see tourists who were not put off visiting a country that boasts UNESCO sites, glorious weather and scrumptious food. They were keen for the visitors to go home and tell their friends that Egypt was safe; all this was said to try and curb the steady descent of visitors which, in the UK alone, has declined by 18% in the last four years.
With Egypt being declared “partially dangerous” it is unlikely that tourists will be gracing the pyramids or sphinx anytime soon. The few that do travel to Egypt are actually the ones benefitting from this all as they can wander the historical monuments without the bustling crowds.
Somaliland is featured as one of the 18 dangerous places to visit. Firstly, it is shocking that the UK even included this as they deny the existence of ‘Somaliland’ and instead only acknowledge Somalia. However, Somaliland, unlike its infamous neighbour Somalia is a safe destination. Piracy at sea has fallen dramatically in East Africa and Somaliland is relatively safe. Simon Reeve, BBC presenter, visited Somaliland and was greeted outside of the airport, not by military and armoured vehicles, but by smiles.
Somaliland has a democratic government, media and border control. It is just like any other nation yet it is feared. People are scared of the unknown. Would you put your hand into a box that you did not know what was inside? Even if you do, your heart rate would increase. Lack of understanding has resulted, in part, to Somaliland having a low tourism infrastructure. That does not mean it’s unsafe, but is just untouched. Those who have visited have been left impressed by pristine beaches and staggering mountains.
I have been to seven countries that the Foreign Office is telling me to avoid and be wary of, but during my recent trip to Myanmar I never once felt endangered.
Hong Kong has issued a warning to travellers heading to France. France is not an unsafe place to go. People must stop trying to deter others from going to places they want. Paris has endured an awful attack on its people and city but would I be deterred from wandering the Parisian streets? Absolutely not.
Atrocities occur all over the world. Not just in the Middle East. Not just in Africa. The UK, USA and Ireland are all dangerous. Within every country resides evil people but in these places people carry on with their daily lives. Walking to the convenience store I could get stabbed, driving to the shopping mall I could be shot. The world is a dark place but by conceding to this society would halt as the world hid behind curtains. Instead we carry on, doing the things we have always done.
If visiting a dangerous country then be smart. Not all of Tunisia or Chad is dangerous, so maybe construct a trip that avoids small segments. Remember, there are back alleys in New York that locals wouldn’t go; so what I am trying to say is don’t fear an entire place just because some pockets of it are troublesome.
If you want to travel to Iraq then who am I to stop you? Go, enjoy the beautiful landscapes and local hospitality but just remain vigilant. North and South Korea are at war, Israel and Palestine are also, yet people still travel here. Stay alert and embrace your adventurous spirit.
The world is waiting for you.
All pictures taken by myself. Follow me on Instagram: Arik_Dane