According to CNN International, the quality of a unique military experience has long characterized tourism in Southeast Asia and parts of Eastern Europe. A patently unique military experience has usually also been illicit, however. Legal programs to provide camera-clickers in camo to be keep-the-receipt-for-return troopers for a day, though, have emerged in the past decade in all corners of the world.
The fall of the Soviet Union garnered both the great poverty of the Russian Federation and Russian ingenuity. According to World Tourism Rankings, the closest Russia has gotten to becoming a top tourist country was a 10th place ranking in 2007 for international tourist arrivals, it is not for lack of giving it the good ol’ “universitet” try [i]. In spite of its statistically unimpressive metrics, Russian components have developed a thriving military tourism complex.
Among their military tourism exploits, Russia boasts a range of military tourism offerings. From being a soldier for a day (“you will be able to get [sic] the skills to protect yourself during the radiation, chemical, and biological attack [sic]”) to tank rides to being a passenger to a master Russian pilot “performing his aerobatics,” or encountering the future in space travel in, “Space Training for the Future Cosmonaut in a MiG-29,” being a soldier for a day for play, while not inexpensive, can quench the spirit of any curious civilian [ii].
Similarly notable is Thailand’s bustling and relatively newly legal military tourism offerings. Since 1997, the Royal Thai Army has increasingly been working with the National Tourism Authority (of Thailand) to legally harness the greatly profitable military tourism industry with more than 20% of the bases in Thailand now running tourism programs.
For the committed military tourist, several bases teach jungle survival techniques, including a week-long course training tourists on Thai Army know-how, “such as knowing which bugs are safe to eat and how to kill a snake and drink its blood” [iii]. Like the Russian industry, tourists in Thailand may also ride and drive in a tank and fly in a vintage military plane (though neither seem to be as brazenly exhilarating as the Russian offerings).
To learn more about “Military Tourism” around the world please visit: