Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tourism and terror

This weekend things are little easy. Next week again I’ll be in Thailand to attend a wedding of our very old family friend Mr B D Sureka’s grandson. The destination this time is Phuket and the wedding would be held at the J W Marriot Hotel. Sureka ji (picture) has been our family friend for the past four decades and since I could not attend their family functions on last three occasions, this time is a must-go situation for me.
Thailand, a peaceful country in general, is becoming a hot and permanent destination for Indian weddings overseas.
The Thailand tourism industy, in the last three years, has created a new category or vertical `marriage tourism’ in the tourism space and there are agencies specialising in catering to this segment.
Tourists avoid places where the threat of terrorism looms. Lebanon is one such instance locked between states of Israel, Iraq that are in perpetual war and Syria.
I did visit Lebanon with my family the reason being a Lebanese couple Anna and Joseph Maria who were in Kolkata and staying permanently in ITC Sonar Bangla Sheraton & Towers. Joseph, working in a multinational corporation, was on assignment here for more than a year. I met them at the ITC and we became good friends (file picture). Not just with myself, Joseph and Anna gelled well with the Kolkata social circle and often spent their evenings with us. On learning about my perceptions about Lebanon, Joseph made me promise to visit Lebanon and judge things for myself. He was cent per cent right. After visiting that country I realized that the country is so amazingly beautiful with its mountains, deserts and beaches (picture).
Lebanon capital Beirut is called the `Switzerland of the Gulf’. It is tough to get a business or first class seat on any of the flights from the Gulf to Beirut while the economy class seats are usually half vacant. The reason is that the citizens of the conservative Gulf countries, especially the sheikhs, fly in to enjoy the nightlife in Beirut and also spend holidays there. Many such rich people from the Gulf countires have their own holiday homes in Lebanon. It is strange how tourism and terror go hand in hand in Lebanon - a beautiful and modern country - that has learnt to live amid bomb blasts and terror attacks.
Joseph drove us 350 to 400 kms a day on an average for 10 days to almost each and every part of Lebanon. I got to see almost all major tourist spots or areas of tourism interest there.
ess bee

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