Shapiro // © 2017 TravelAge West
On the last page of this issue, we feature the photography of Mark Edward Harris. He’s a regular contributor to Explorer, and he’s one of the best photographers in the business. Harris has published many collections of his photos, including one on North Korea. Once, when I asked him if he was nervous when he visited that country, he told me he was too excited to be scared.
“I just had to see it for myself,” Harris said.
People pick their travel destinations for all kinds of reasons, but one motivation that tends to get overlooked is pure curiosity. In particular, when a destination or region is often referred to in the news, there are going to be lots of travelers who want to visit. This is true even when the media coverage is not necessarily positive.
In this issue, for instance, we have a story about visiting Greenland (“The Tip of the Iceberg,” page 24), which is a destination that is often referred to in debates about global warming. Many travelers visit Greenland specifically because they want to witness the effects of global warming for themselves.
Similarly, in “Biking the Lost City” (page 20), we take a look at a cycling tour in Jordan. There are many people who have Jordan on their bucket list not only because of its many historical, cultural and natural attractions, but also because they are curious about modern Muslim society. They consider Jordan a safe way to immerse themselves in that culture.
In both cases, these destinations have seen an increase of tourists thanks to media coverage — whether positive or negative. Some travel advisors might not want to suggest a destination to a client because of its association with controversy, but it can be a mistake to avoid a place or region that has received bad press. In fact, in many cases, travelers want to explore these destinations for themselves so that they can contribute to online debates about the countries. (This same mindset is contributing to travel booms in Iran and Cuba.)
While a visit to North Korea these days is probably not a great idea, you can be sure that there will one day be plenty of interest among travelers who want to see that country for themselves. Travel advisors who keep one eye on the headlines can be ready to capitalize on travelers’ thirst for first-hand knowledge.