Military Review

At the forefront of military tourism

21
At the forefront of military tourism

Rick Sweeney recently organized a tour for a small group of vacationers. Everything was adjusted. They had to fly to Turkey, and then by land to get to their destination. Syria. At the last minute they decided to abandon the tour. And not because of danger, although, as they say, more than one hundred thousand people have already died in Syria in the civil war, but because tour operators based in the United States were afraid that officials would blacklist them suspected of having links with Al Qaeda.


If this happened, Rick Sweeney and the other founders of the travel agency Warzone Tours could not do their business: organizing tourist tours in Mogadishu and Baghdad and ensuring the security of politicians and top managers as private contractors.

Sweeney and his colleagues are a small group of people who are engaged in a niche business and send people not to Spanish beaches, but to countries where military conflicts take place or are smoldering. Sweeney's company works in the most expensive and adventurous niche of tourist bines, and some even call this niche reckless and perversely voyeuristic. The price of an individual tour to Baghdad for vacationers reaches 40 000 dollars.

Warzone Tours is positioning itself in the market as a company providing services in the field of "extreme travel" in zones of military conflicts. The company's website depicts soldiers, a burning car, and the background music are the sounds of explosions and screams.

Riku Sweeney 49 years, he served in the army and worked in the security industry for 25 years. The idea of ​​business arose during his service in hot spots: “I was in Bosnia and Iraq, and there were so many cultural monuments that I could not see, and so many people with whom I wanted and could not communicate!”

He discussed his idea into a couple of potential customers and their enthusiasm convinced him that there is a niche in the industry for people who would like to visit the places where a military conflict is going or has already ended. In 2008 Good, Warzone Tours has earned it.

A typical client is a person who never served in the army and did not work in the field of security, but "made money and has the means for something adventurous that he could not afford while he earned capital." Most of the company's customers are middle-aged businessmen who earn more than 100 thousands of dollars a year. Although Rick Sweeney remembers among his clients and one woman who bought a tour to Iraq for his elderly father. “Maybe she wanted to get her inheritance early,” he grins.

Security is the most expensive part of the tour. But it's worth it, according to Sweeney, who sends a team of private contractors to the destination in advance and hires local guides who can be trusted. “Logistics and planning is our main concern. And it costs money. Even a top manager when traveling to his plant in Mexico does not receive as much security services as my tourists, ”Sweeney said.

The real military tourists, Rick believes, are loners who usually travel to the war zone by themselves. There are rumors about people who pretend to be a journalist to gain experience on the front lines. In Syria, there were stories about a woman who went to the front to marry a fighter of the Free Syrian Army, another woman only went through a breakup with her lover and went to war to kill her, and two college students just wanted to get the right to hang around their photos with AK -47 in hand.

Rica Sweeney is not confused by the danger of Baghdad or Mogadishu (the United States and the United Kingdom do not recommend their citizens to visit Iraq and Somalia). “Probably, these places seem more dangerous to people than they really are. It happens that they shoot nearby or a car explodes, ”he says blithely,“ but nothing is directed specifically against us. ”

The idea of ​​military tourism causes the rejection of James Wilcox, the British, who helped two businessmen (one from Pakistan, the other from Afghanistan) to establish Untamed Borders in 2006, the year (“Untamed Borders”). Unlike Rick Sweeney, he does not have a military or security past, but he, when he could, traveled a lot in central Asia. “Traveling is my way of education,” Willcox, who is now organizing tours to the Bamiyan caves, where the Taliban have destroyed huge Buddha statues, is on fire.

“Military tourists, black tourists, devilish sights, military tours — we try not to use all these terms, as they reflect what we are doing,” says Willcox. Nevertheless, he notes that travelers love to be photographed against the backdrop of the burnt Soviet takens in Afghanistan or at the site of the fall of the Black Hawks in the Somali capital in 1993.

The basis of his business is the organization and supervision of tours to Afghanistan, especially hiking in the Wakhan corridor in the province of Badakhshan. Kandahar and Helmand are not included in the list of places visited, but it takes travelers to inspect Kabul (where they initially arrive).

“People think that there is only war. In Kabul, 6 millions of people go to work every day and nothing happens to them. Fear is disproportionate to risk. ”

Dramatic stories on TV and press coverage distort everyday reality. “During the riots in London in 2011, I received calls, SMS messages and emails from friends from Grozny, Kabul and Mogadishu asking if I was okay. They saw pictures of a burning building in London and thought I was in trouble. ”

Nicholas Wood, the former Balkan reporter for the New York Times, who created Political Tours in 2011, also finds the term military tourism repulsive. His company arranges tours to Libya, North Korea and even the City of London affected by the crisis.

After the American ambassador to Benghazi was killed last September, Wood decided that Libya was too unstable for tourists. “I have a moral responsibility towards clients to avoid unnecessary risks,” he says.

He also does not want to indulge in voyeurism of “drug addicts” who have long been hooked on the war, who would like to witness the hostilities live. Wood admits that military reporters are excited and get adrenaline drive from coverage of military conflicts, although he notes that this is partly to blame for the servility of the public in front of the military reporter as the hero of the war.

Jeff Hann works for those who would like to discover Afghanistan and Iraq. Hann founded Hinterland Travel thirty years ago and says that business has never gone so briskly as it is now, especially after the Internet has sparked interest in the business. Hann is worried that with business development he will not be able to find a worthy assistant with the necessary knowledge. He himself speaks a little Arabic and somehow in Pashto and Farsi. He usually manages to talk to people in hot spots "in simple English and slowly"

Hann, like the others, says that this kind of business will not make him rich. At Rick Sweeney, owner of Warzone Tours, the main income of the company brings security activities. Tourism to hot spots is only a side activity, and this allows him, among other things, to reject the offers of those tourists whose motivation seems to him suspicious.

“We immediately get rid of customers who want to be given AK-47. We believe that weapon should be in the hands of professionals, not customers. " Although, Sweeney admits that there are others, "operators-cowboys" who look at it differently. Sweeney does not call himself a "travel agent", preferring to say that "we are just security guys who know how to behave in the conflict zone."

He also denies that he is profiting from the suffering of others. “Usually, critics accuse us of the fact that our business is politically incorrect. And this is not the case at all. On the contrary. I want customers to just sit down with the locals at the same table, share the common meal and talk with each other. ”
Author:
Originator:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0125aa18-408d-11e3-8775-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2jL2XBOtR
21 comment
Information
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. taseka
    taseka 14 November 2013 18: 15
    +9
    That's really whom I absolutely do not regret for hanging dandies - I wanted to drive - get it!
    1. smile
      smile 14 November 2013 18: 29
      +5
      taseka
      Really. And why pity them ... dumbwits?
      There is something perverse about the motivations of such "tourists".
      But they don’t give weapons to their hands because in the hands of such idiots it is dangerous for those around them and for themselves.
      Seen enough Hollywood films .. those who are under forty, who did not serve in the army, and forward - for the thrill ..
      Just like in a joke-
      something sharp and cold to me, please.
      - Do you want a dagger in the ass? :))))
      1. BARKAS
        BARKAS 14 November 2013 18: 33
        +4
        One such Russian tourist is now visiting the bandits in Syria, I don’t even know if I’ve even heard about him in the media for a long time!
      2. taseka
        taseka 16 November 2013 15: 18
        0
        drinks Hi smile - soon in the West they will get so much drive from the Arabs that it won’t seem enough!
  2. Asgard
    Asgard 14 November 2013 18: 20
    +6
    photo from the pyramids
    We also have guys who go on their holidays to Chechnya, Kurdistan, I have not heard in other countries))) This is an expensive and troublesome job, requiring not only an excellent physiologist, but also a bright head.
    And it can be recommended up to 40 years ... And you will sunbathe, and you will receive adrenaline .... (shoot))
    This is not something to go out on the beaches of Egypt and Turkey))) Although you can have fun there, some Russian guys climbed the top of the pyramids at night))))
    Where it is clear that these blocks were not dragged there, but were cast in the formwork)))
  3. Stinger
    Stinger 14 November 2013 18: 29
    +3
    Original. But in a sniper ambush, you can relax better. Not so tired.
  4. erased
    erased 14 November 2013 18: 39
    +3
    Funny guys. But if you like it, why not ?!
  5. andrei332809
    andrei332809 14 November 2013 18: 41
    12
    But there are no tours in Europe on the tank? I'll pay for salary myself repeat
    1. AVV
      AVV 14 November 2013 23: 57
      0
      With a race to Holland, in places of military glory Breivik ???
  6. Bober
    Bober 14 November 2013 18: 42
    +3
    As always. People demand bread and circuses. Desalinated life. I imagine the ironic smile of those people who were in a real war on duty. Now they don’t really go hunting too.
  7. ia-ai00
    ia-ai00 14 November 2013 18: 47
    +6
    A typical client is a person who has never served in the army and has not worked in the security field, but "Made money and he has the means for something adventurous that he could not afford while earning capital. ”

    ... that's right, "made money", but did not EARN! ... And he did not serve in the army, and I think he never worked at all, but "made" money ... I think that a person who EARNED has other interests in life, more PEACEFUL than looking for adventure in one place , especially in "hot" spots.
    ... travelers love to be photographed on background of burnt soviet tanks (???) in Afghanistan or at the site of the fall of the Black Hawks in the capital of Somalia in 1993.

    In my opinion - "craving" for such "landscapes" is one of the types of PERVERTY. Of course, I judge by myself, for me - "Catch" HEALTHY adrenaline - in the mountains, climbers, tourists - "drifting" on rafts along fast mountain rivers, etc. And to be photographed at the RUINS, against the background of people's suffering, well, excuse me ...
    1. smile
      smile 14 November 2013 19: 00
      +5
      ia-ai00
      Of course, a perversion — what could be attractive in observing human grief, corpses, and destruction? If you really want to participate, go, help, to the hospital, although it will be useful ... so there is no zhezh, you have to take a picture with the iron in your hand against the background of corpses ... scavengers.
      1. VOLCHOXURAL
        VOLCHOXURAL 14 November 2013 19: 34
        +3
        [quote = smile] ia-ai00
        Of course, a perversion — what could be attractive in observing human grief, corpses, and destruction? If you really want to participate, go to the hospital to help, although it will be useful ... so there is no zhezh, you need to take a picture with a piece of iron in your hand against the background of corpses ... scavengers. [/ Quote]
        These are probably the same people who have all kinds of videos stored at home, with executed executions, wear and tear and other perversions! So they go there hoping to see live! They are not scavengers - they are just sick people!

        [quote = ia-ai00] [quote]
        In my opinion - "craving" for such "landscapes" is one of the types of PERVERTY. Of course, I judge by myself, for me - they "catch" HEALTHY adrenaline - in the mountains ALPINISTS, tourists - "drifting" on rafts along fast mountain rivers, etc. And to be photographed at the RUINS, against the background of the suffering of people, well, excuse me ... [/ quote]
        Absolutely agree!!!
  8. The comment was deleted.
  9. Hauptam
    Hauptam 14 November 2013 19: 37
    +5
    But what kind of tourism is this, real mercenary, a criminal offense. Tolley is a matter of tanks in America or Europe, as part of an army or corps. lol
  10. Stiletto
    Stiletto 14 November 2013 19: 45
    +3
    And I would organize a full immersion tour for Obama, McCain, the Saudis and others. With families. With their children, dogs and advisers. To really, so that they also have the opportunity to wind their guts on the fence. For a week, for two ... Until they understand what the peoples are doomed to and what games they play.
  11. starhina01
    starhina01 14 November 2013 20: 08
    +1
    paradoxically, but there is a demand there will be offers hi I think the best tour was in the USSR for all young citizens of 18 years of age for two years there was everything and no one knew who would get where soldier
  12. zvereok
    zvereok 14 November 2013 20: 28
    0
    I thought about this speech:

    http://konkretno.ru/analitic/62411-russkie-v-sirii.html

    "
    Russians in Syria

    In the middle of last week, the online newspaper Fontanka.ru told fans of sensations their own investigation. According to the author of the revelatory publication, "rumors about Russian citizens carrying arms in the hands of speakers in the Syrian conflict on the side of Bashar al-Assad turned out to be true." According to the conviction of AZhUR employees, St. Petersburg became the center for recruiting mercenaries. For some reason, the “recruiters” refused to make contact with the whistleblowers, but outlined the real story about Syria to the correspondent of Our Version on the Neva.

    In fact, our colleagues from Fontanka.ru found out a lot of interesting things. In particular, that the former commando Alexey Malyuta, allegedly killed in battle, is actually alive and unharmed. They managed to unearth that the “Russian mercenary” was related to the security consortium Moran Security Group and concluded a Syrian contract with the Hong Kong private military company Slavonic Corps Limited. But guesses went further ...

    Judging by the words of the guests of our editorial office, representatives of the Arab business, the central office of the FSB and the British special services played their game in sending Russian special forces veterans to Syria. Who exactly and in what volumes warmed his hands on the scandalous security contract seems to have remained a mystery.

    Today a criminal case has been opened against the security consortium in Moscow. Two employees are in custody and are in the Lefortovo SIZO. In all likelihood, the heads of Moran Security Group, Slavonic Corps Limited and Slavyansky Corps LLC are preparing to bring charges under Art. 359 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Mercenary). The details of the "Syrian" chronicle agreed to tell the president of the consortium Vyacheslav Kalashnikov. "

    PS: All this is good, but when will they put Serdyukov?
    1. starhina01
      starhina01 14 November 2013 20: 45
      0
      PS: All this is good, but when they put Serdyukov in? ... why should I put in a ticket? bully
  13. MIKHAN
    MIKHAN 14 November 2013 20: 44
    +6
    He wrote like that. (Real story)
    WWII veteran went to a meeting with fellow soldiers in Berlin ..
    At the airport, a standard profile ..
    Where what why the purpose of the visit ..
    Question: Have you been to Berlin before?
    Answer: Yes.
    Question: on what type of transport ..? (and answer options (airplane car, ship and more ..)
    Answer (other): On the T-34 tank ..!
    A curtain..)))
    These are our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were .. !!! Now they are looking at us reproachfully .. and die with tears in their eyes seeing what is happening ..
  14. Andrey Peter
    Andrey Peter 14 November 2013 20: 44
    +2
    It seems that the world is going crazy. And especially the Americans, they had seen enough of the militants, they themselves had earned money so that they couldn’t get any extremism. The flag in their hands was just to put it where the war was really going on and not let it out until the contract expired (in time). When they understand where they got involved, they would pay a hundred times more to get out of there. I think it’s enough for a couple of days, they’ll get scared the first day and they’ll get lost on the second. A normal person (who did not even try the gunpowder) just by looking at the chronicles of hostilities will understand what a nightmare it is. Unfortunately, and not only they have enough morons.
  15. SEM
    SEM 14 November 2013 21: 11
    +3
    Quote: MIKHAN
    He wrote like that. (Real story)
    WWII veteran went to a meeting with fellow soldiers in Berlin ..
    At the airport, a standard profile ..
    Where what why the purpose of the visit ..
    Question: Have you been to Berlin before?
    Answer: Yes.
    Question: on what type of transport ..? (and answer options (airplane car, ship and more ..)
    Answer (other): On the T-34 tank ..!
    A curtain..)))
    These are our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were .. !!! Now they are looking at us reproachfully .. and die with tears in their eyes seeing what is happening ..
    YES OLD OLD !!! THEY LIVED THE LIFE TO THE COUNTRY AND WE THAT THERE ARE NO WORDS ...
  16. Andrey Peter
    Andrey Peter 14 November 2013 21: 29
    +1
    Quote: MIKHAN
    Answer (other): On the T-34 tank ..!

    And laughed and pleased. laughing Only taking into account the present time their questionnaires will change. Like "what is your orientation and working body"? wassat
    1. alone
      alone 14 November 2013 22: 40
      0
      Quote: Andrew Peter
      And he made me laugh and pleased. Only taking into account the present time their questionnaires will change. Like "what is your orientation and working body"?


      No comments wassat good
  17. Bashkaus
    Bashkaus 14 November 2013 23: 28
    0
    Oh, there is a free whole niche in the tourism industry;) If the mountain does not go to Magamed, the Magamed goes to the mountain.
    You want to smell gunpowder and get extreme, but travel agency Warzone Tours paid for it, come to us, Travel company "Alkaida" offers a new product "war at home".
    The service package includes:
    1-attack right in your home to choose from:
    -Explosion of a homemade bomb stuffed with nails
    -chemical or biological attack of your home
    hostage-taking
    - execution as an unfaithful pig
    - cutting off your head under the cries of alah aka bar.
    - other options are possible (for example, eating your genitalia or internal organs).
    2-During the terrorist attack, terrorists will shoot 3 AK74 horns
    3 to twenty times shout alah aka bar.
    4-One of the terrorists will certainly insert the mine into the mortar and tear it to shreds.
    5-before you shoot or cut off your head, your wife, children, etc. will be raped before your eyes.
    Individual approach to each client.
    But seriously, even the very last animal does not think of what a morally degraded person can come up with
  18. komsomolets
    komsomolets 14 November 2013 23: 57
    +1
    All this craving for adrenaline flies out of the head, when a splinter or a bullet really pierces you, then you don’t even want to hell, even live.
  19. rpek32
    rpek32 15 November 2013 01: 38
    +1
    Until the first "arrow" in the tail of the plane. On health. The Earth itself will cleanse its gene pool of idiots.
  20. mivmim
    mivmim 15 November 2013 03: 06
    0
    And ours are what they sleep? It is necessary to concoct a tour company and send hunters for these adrenaline lovers.)))))))))))))
  21. kelevra
    kelevra 18 December 2013 14: 28
    0
    The people divorced from reality, for all this is a game until they themselves tear something off!