Thursday, June 9, 2011

5 Controversial Kinds of Travel

Most of us travel for the same reasons: to see a new place, relax and unwind, or do something that we enjoy. But in the 21st century, with any worldwide destination no more than a day's journey away, people are travelling for entirely new reasons. Some of these are quite controversial, and come under fire from various groups.

We've compiled a list of five controversial kinds of travel that for the most part didn't exist last century. Here they are:

Medical Tourism - Sure, buses of pensioners head from the US to Canada to get cheaper medicine, but would you go abroad for a major procedure? One of the most popular kinds of medical tourism is plastic surgery: those with the cash can hop on a plane, spend a month relaxing in a resort, and come home with a tan and a new nose!

Controversy: It's hard to gauge the quality of facilities in other countries, and there are horror stories floating around of scam artists in back-alley clinics using unsafe equipment and techniques.

Medical tourism destinations: Belgium, South Africa, Mexico

Dark Tourism - Also called 'black' tourism or grief tourism, Dark Tourism involves travel to places that are associated with death and suffering. Well-known examples include former Nazi concentration camps, Chernobyl, and gruesome attractions like the London Dungeons.

Controversy: While most people agree that it is important to remember atrocities and genocides in order to ensure they never happen again, some argue that promoting them as tourism destinations glamorises violence.

Dark tourism destinations: Germany, Ukraine, Cambodia, Rwanda

Voluntourism - While many of us choose to use our vacation time to relax or visit family, some are opting to donate their time to charity and volunteer with charities or non-profits as they holiday in exotic destinations. Volunteers pay their own way, but spend part or all of their holiday working with conservation groups or aid organisations.

Controversy: While there is a definite 'feel good' aspect to voluntourism, many argue that a steady stream of unskilled volunteer labour denies jobs to locals and benefits poor communities less than funding skilled, long-term workers.

Voluntourism destinations: Brazil, Tanzania, Malaysia

Suicide Tourism - In most countries euthanasia is illegal, so some people with terminal illnesses opt to travel to countries that allow the practise to end their lives legally and painlessly. While there are infamous places that attract high numbers of suicides (the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Aokigahara Forest in Japan, for example), suicide tourism is focused on assisted suicide.

Controversy: The controversy over the practise of assisted suicide is hotly debated in many countries.

Suicide tourism destinations: Switzerland, Belgium, Cambodia, Oregon

Antitourism - Some people just don't like to be told where they can't go. In fact, a small number of travellers find a thrill in going to places that they shouldn't, that no one else will visit. The State Department's Travel Warning list reads like a bucket list to these adventurers. Also known as 'macho' tourism, antitourists purposefully seek out dangerous destinations for unique experiences and bragging rights.

Controversy: There's an obvious danger factor, and many consider antitourism unnecessarily reckless. Adventurous travellers who get into trouble cost government money and resources to assist.

Antitourism destinations: North Korea, Bahrain, Iran

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