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I laugh in the face of danger: Travelling to the world's most dangerous destinations

I laugh in the face of danger: Travelling to the world's most dangerous destinations
Author: Amanda Carrell
1 Commentries
I laugh in the face of danger: Travelling to the world's most dangerous places

This conference paper aims to look at the world's most dangerous tourist destinations, who it is that goes and the motivations for travelling to a destination that is associated with high crime. A survey was carried out on 70 people to help to idenntiyfy a visitor profile of tourists who travel to dangerous places.

Crime, danger, mass tourist, backpacker, destination, motivations

Exotic paradises, lush rainforests, clear waters, sunny beaches, incredible cultures and amazing nature may sound like the description of a perfect holiday destination being marketed in your latest travel brochure, but these descriptions illustrate the environment and attractions of some of the world's most dangerous destinations. (Nedelcu 2008) For many tourists a holiday consists of laying on white beaches listening to the natter of other tourists moaning about the hotel staff that don't speak 'perfect English' or the lack of British food on offer in the all inclusive restaurants and discussing which English run bar will be hosting karaoke for their evening of entertainment. These types of tourists, the tourists that fall into the mass tourist category are more than happy to go on holiday without interacting with local people, cultures or traditions, they are more than happy to laze around the pool or beach day in day out. Frankly the choice of destination is not overly important, as long as their main needs of sunshine and beaches are met than the holiday experience will be fulfilled.

However this is not the case for all travellers, as society has begun to change and the desire to experience authentic experiences been more highly demanded, destinations that would have once never be considered for tourists have become more popular and attractive. (Wang 1999) As tourists enthusiasm grows, even more exotic and unusual destinations are sought after, the Greek islands are no longer enough to feed the thirst of the risk taking tourist, holidays involving danger are much more likely to wet the appetite of the thrill seeking tourist in a way in which the mass tourism destinations could never do (Lepp and Gibson 2003)

In a world that has always been a dangerous place threatened by war, natural disasters, plagues and cold blooded murder it is not clear as to where exactly be a dangerous place. When you think of dangerous places destinations like Iraq, Pakistan and Baghdad may spring to mind, however these dangerous places are not usually places in which tourists tend to travel. Destinations such as the Caribbean, Cambodia and Mexico are travel hot spots for tourists and back packers but are places that see high crime, real crime.

As suggested by Harper (2006) many tourists dabble in dangerous situations due to a quest for the authentic, the quest for the real experience. To learn about a destination and its culture is not to stay in the resorts but to venture outside into local communities often being careless (Boakye 2010). Many authors have described tourists as either seeking novelty or familiarities, affecting their destination choice, those tourists that seek novelty are those that are more likely to visit a destination that could be associated with crime. Identified by Cohen (1984) are four types of tourists 'the mass tourist, the individual mass tourist, the explorer and the drifter' pretty self explanatory is the mass tourist, sitting in the all inclusive restaurant not interacting with anyone with a slight culture difference this tourists desires a familiar experience very much like home. Independent mass tourists like to think they are not part of the mass tourist category; their holidays will often be booked independently but will still take place in mass tourist areas, where they will stick to the mass tourism activities. It is the drifters that interest this research, these types of ''travellers'' do not want to associate themselves with tourist tracks, socialising and interacting with local people and local cultures is key. They desire as much novelty as possible; the idea of familiar is not at all appetising to them.

It has been suggested that age has an effect on whether people travel to destinations that are perceived as dangerous, Pearce (1998 and 1996) brought to light that the more experienced the traveller is the more likely they were to want novelty in their travels, this is not necessarily related to age however, an experienced traveller does not mean one that has been on many holidays, it is one that has been to many different places and experienced many different cultures and environments. Backpackers and budget travellers are highly associated with risk and adventure, which often affects where they travel to, the most interesting places for them to travel will often be countries which are established as some of the most dangerous places is the world (Lepp and Gibson 2008). Munt (1994) considers another tourist type that is interested in travel to third world destinations which are associated with risk, the new middle class. This type of traveller is interested in maintaining social differentiation, away in which they can distinguish themselves from those people that chose to partake in mass tourism; the new middle class is an adventures traveller.

Furthermore, through both primary and secondary research the suggested profile of the tourist that is excited by dangerous destinations that are associated with high crime, are young adults, often backpackers, male or female, and are often from the new middle class. They are adventurous and could be classed as drifters; they seek authentic experiences away from mass markets and are often on a quest for self identity.


Cohen, E (1984) The Sociology of tourism: Approaches, issues and findings,
Annual review of sociology, 10, 373-392

Lepp, A and Gibson, H. (2008). Sensation seeking and tourism: Tourist role, perception of risk and destination choice. Tourism Manegement. 29 (4), 740-750

Pizam, A., and Y. Mansfeld (1996). Tourism, Crime, and International Security Issues. Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Excellent conference paper Amanda :D
Author: Lisa Walker
I laugh in the face of danger is overall a very thought out and interesting subject to look at. In general terms the structure of the piece is eye catching which will draw me as a reader in to discover more.

An area that you covered that intrigued me was that you highlighted the unknown perceptions of holidays. From the first sentence of the main body, I would have believed you to be discussing exotic or luxury holidays (if I hadn't seen the title). This proves that many people believe that these descriptions such as 'lush rainforests, clear waters, sunny beaches and incredible cultures' only illustrate luxury and would not consider them to be describing a dangerous environment.

I also found it especially interesting how you seemed to be so bold in how you addressed the different types of tourist groups and how you considered the importance of what they wanted from a destination.
However I would have to disagree that all 'mass' tourists do not think about the type of destination that they go to, as many people that fall into this group, may choose to go to that destination for other reasons such as special interest, for example Ibiza is well known for loud teenagers drinking all night and being raudy, yet other travellers know it for having a strong historical background in the old towns and do want to interact with locals, which I think to of been the case before the shift in the society.


In addition, the point made about 'holidays involving danger are much more likely to wet the appetite of the thrill seeking tourist' may be considered to be broad for this topic as it may cause misinterpretation the meaning of the word 'risk'. Does it mean the danger of being shot OR the thrill of adrenalin when getting involved with 'risky' activities such as base jumping?
However this concept can still portray that fact that tourists are seeking the 'thrill factor' from a holiday no matter what type of risk is involved.

I consider one of the most important issues that have been covered in this conference paper to be that, 'It is not clear as to where exactly be a dangerous place'.
The reason this point was bought to my attention was that there was no evidence to relate the influences of the media. As this was followed by people believing that Middle Eastern destinations are dangerous and so called 'mass tourism' destinations are safe. But where do these beliefs come from? If the person has not travelled to the area how do they know how safe it is?
It has also been suggested by Harper that tourists 'dabble in dangerous situations', but it is bought to my mind of how do they know it is dangerous? I believe that it is the fault of the media and as also noted the difference in people's interpretations of the words, risk and danger.