So what do Northern Ireland, Ukraine, Algeria and Lebanon have in common? Thomson Cruises, Europe’s biggest travel company, plans to add these so called once-troubled destinations to its 2013 cruise destinations:
Forget sunny Barcelona and the Amalfi coast, the biggest travel company in Europe is shaking up its cruise itineraries with ports of call including Algiers, in Algeria, and Beirut, in Lebanon, making the niche destinations available to the everyday traveller.
Beirut, which is once again seeing a rise in tourism despite ongoing problems in the rest of the region, has been included in Thomson’s Portraits of the Past cruise for its spectacular Roman ruins such as Baalbek.
Fraser Ellacott, managing director of Thomson Cruises, explained the new itinerary choices, saying the travel company was keen to offer new experiences to cruisers.
‘Algiers and Beirut are cities that are drenched in history and culture and offer a host of must-see experiences. Beirut in particular is a cosmopolitan city with luxury five star hotels, brilliant night life and architecture, which I know many of our customers, will be keen to visit. Many travel writers are also advising people to visit as soon as possible, before it gets too popular.
Using war-torn pasts could be an interesting marketing ploy to attract the adventure tourists but I’m sure many would pass-up these hotspots for a pristine beach sans AK47s. Then of course, there’s the 2010 Beirut Club Med cancellation after the company angered Jews by denying them access to the Lebanon-leg of the trip because they had Israeli stamps on their passports. It would be interesting to see how Thomson Cruises deals with this issue.