war tourism is About Peace

war tourism is About Peacewar tourism is About Peace

Even talking about war is bitter, especially for a nation who experienced the second longest war of the 20th Century after Vietnam.

 Last week was Iran’s war commemoration, called “Sacred Defense Week”. The war is commemorated for a week each year from September 22-29 to honor the fallen and to cherish the strength and resistance of the people.

It is during this week only that the concept of ‘war tourism’ comes to the forefront.

About 25 years ago, Iran faced an imposed 8-year war with Saddam Hossein in Iraq.

The war cost more than a million lives on both sides and left vast areas of wreckage. One of the areas was Dezful, a city called by foes as the “city of missiles”, and was bombed 3000 times. In 1986, the public chose the city as the “symbol of resistance”.

 The country has been largely restored, and there are now very few signs of war, apart from street names and pictures of the martyrs on some streets.

In border cities like Khoramshahr and Abadan however, there are still areas that need to be developed. These are the areas where domestic war tourists usually go each year.  These tour packages are called “Rahiane Nour”.

In Tehran, there are many legacies of war.  The most famous of these are the Sacred Defense Garden Museum, Tehran Peace Museum, and Behesht e Zahra—a grave yard where many of the martyrs are buried.

 War tourism

Although associating the concept of war with tourism and vacationing may seem incongruous and unethical to some, it can bear moral lessons on the contrary. There is something very humbling about hearing and watching how people managed to survive under terrible circumstances and of how, despite the many acts of barbarism, the human qualities of bravery, resilience and ingenuity came to the fore. It certainly gives people a lesson in life and is after all good for the war-torn economies.


War tourists are a niche group of travelers, set far apart from sand and beach recreationists, who travel to countries that have experienced or are mired in conflict.

Fueled by travel documentaries such as Vice videos and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, the broader adventure-tourism industry, which includes travel to war zones and political hotspots, has grown by an average of 65 percent annually over the past four years and is now estimated to be worth $263 billion.  

There are hyper-extreme tour operators around the world, like Warzone Tours and Wild Frontiers which organize such trips; they take tourists to the ‘hot war zones’ where there is armed conflict. For them, a whiff of danger is a selling point.

The price of such the trips is usually high. A trip to Baghdad can reach up $40,000 for a westerner.

A typical customer is someone who has never worked in the military or security but “has made their money and now has the means to do something adventurous that they never had the chance to do in their working lives”. Most tourists are middle-aged businessmen who earn well over $100,000, writes Financial Times.

The tours take people to Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq and recently Syria.

War tourists can be grouped into different categories:

The Duty/Working Traveler: This includes people who go to war-torn areas to contribute to aid programs, the peacekeeping industry or to seek commercial opportunities and contracts, particularly in infrastructure rebuilding projects;

The Remembrance/Pilgrim Traveler: A great deal of northern France and Belgium’s tourism industry was established to cater to veterans and the families of those who died in battle during the two world wars; the Rubbernecker: These are the people who wish to see the consequences of war directly while the conflict zones are still hot; they are largely motivated by morbid curiosity; the Cocktail Traveller: These are tourists not interested in the war directly, but who consider the element of danger or the opportunity to see the aftermath of a battle as adding to the general experience; the Innocents: This category takes into account those tourists who inadvertently get caught up in war or insurgent activity whilst travelling.

War tourism is therefore, more about peace than war, as is tourism itself. With people traveling to the affected areas, they relive memories of a time in history, understand the true price of war and take back home the valuable lessons they have learnt.