Mad for Mogadishu

mgdshWhilst the world is opening up for tourism, there are still a few places that it is, currently, best to avoid.

Somalia is considered to be the most dangerous country in the world.

For many good reasons, of course.

Firstly, the country was without an effective government for about 13 years whilst competing war lords declared war on each other and took control of parts of the city; their munitions destroying many of the buildings with a great loss of life.

During this time services were not maintained and anarchy was a normal part of life.

Most people have heard of the infamous Somalian pirates who captured ships and held the ships and their crews to ransom, occasionally killing some of their hostages.

Then there is the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, which was based in Somalia and was particularly brutal.

In other words, Somalia is a place to best avoid rather than to plan a trip there.

Somalia, though, is slowly undergoing change.  Although it is still considered to be a very dangerous and unpredictable place, some tourists have begun to trickle into the country, using Mogadishu as their base.

Even though Somalia now has a new government, and the violence that was once rife has now mellowed, you would still need to be barking mad to consider a trip there, but the situation is gradually changing.

There is an official Somalia Tourism Association which aims to improve conditions for inbound tourists.  It may be a hard sell, but they are trying to make tourism a viable industry in the country.

Now that Somalia does have a government, there is some local optimism, with reports that a luxury resort is being built on a beach in Mogadishu.

Plus, there are some in-bound tourist operators who are offering tours of Mogadishu and the surrounding country.

Unfortunately, you can’t just swan into Mogadishu and do your own thing, as even the tourism operators suggest that visitors hire security, and several hundred dollars per day, as soon as they arrive in the country.

One of the main attractions in Mogadishu is a visit to the site of the Black Hawk Down incident.  This altercation, in which a US Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in the city, following which a rescue party was sent in to rescue the survivors was the subject of a feature film.

Mogadishu, and the nearby coastline, does have some very good beaches, but Somalia is also a strictly Muslim country and any women who wish to swim need to do so fully clothed.

Those attitudes, along with a lack of decent tourist infrastructure and a distinctly unsafe community will mean that the Somalia Tourism Association has got a hard battle in front of it before international tourism can reach a sustainable level.

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