|Looking Beyond Danger in the World's Troubled Regions.|
By Louise Osborne ~ Exclusive from ITB 2014
Sunday, 30th March 2014
Exclusive ITB Feature: For many people, traveling is a way to get away from work and home, a way to try new things, but above all, a way to relax -
However, for others it is a way to experience new cultures in countries that offer something new and exciting, even in those countries where there may be danger.
Journeying to countries where there are regions experiencing conflict is not for everyone, but for those who still want to visit, some of those lands were represented at ITB Berlin in halls dedicated to stands from countries in regions including Middle East, Africa and Asia.
One country that is now in just its second year at the ITB after only being created in 2011 is South Sudan. The African country has experienced its fair share of troubles with fighting erupting close to the capital city, Juba, in December 2013.
While a ceasefire was signed in January, there has since been some fighting between rebels to the government.
Still, South Sudan's ambassador to Germany Sitona Abdalla Osman, who was handing out South Sudanese food – spinach and meat in a peanut sauce – to visitors at the ITB, said tourists should not be worried about visiting a country, which she said has "a lot of potential".
"It's a new country with many resources, landscapes and forestry," she said. "People who want adventure can come to South Sudan. Recently there has been conflict but that should never prevent people coming, it's only in three out of 10 of the regions and the other areas are very peaceful."
Tourists visiting South Sudan could expect to be welcomed by the people living there and to see the traditions and animals from the country, Osman said.
"Everybody is happy still, especially because it's a new country," she said. "We will very quickly be back to peace."
In another part of the exhibition, the people manning the Yemen stall pointed to the pictures high above the stand, showing visitors some of the architecture and wildlife they might see if they traveled to the Middle Eastern country.
Yemen is a country that has had its own troubles with al Qaeda finding a major foothold in parts of the country, battling for control of some cities with the government, while also the target of US unmanned drones.
But despite the problems, Ibrahim Mohamed Al-Attab, deputy marketing manager at the Yemen's Ministry of Tourism, who was at the country's stand, said the country represents Arab hospitality and generosity.
"People have the wrong perception of Yemen," he said. "They think that an Arab country is deserts and camels, but that's not true. The Yemeni people are friendly and simple and we have landscapes, mountains, desert and sea."
However, he said there were some regions that tourists should avoid where there are tribal conflicts and some violence.
"Yemen has a negative image, but we have very positive-minded people and the negative image is opposite to what our cultural heritage is," said Al-Attab. "We've had some good feedback [at the ITB] from people from Eastern Europe, such as Poland and people from the Czech Republic and Romanians."
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Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.
Louise writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com