Gone are the days when the islands of Spain and Greece were the ultimate overseas destinations for young Britons looking for a party. According to the Association of Tour Operators, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is now the hottest place to vacation.
The association conducted a survey of British travellers aged 18 to 24, and it found that ISIS topped the list of most desirable travel spots, with nearly half of all respondents saying they were planning a visit by next year.
Simon Flocken, a guide with tour operator Contiki, says the travel industry is stepping in to meet this demand. Until recently, travellers were unable to find organized trips to the caliphate, so they would fly into eastern Turkey and end up hitchhiking to the border, wasting precious weeks hanging around refugee camps, asking passersby if they know anyone in ISIS. More often than not, the travellers would run out of money and have to ask relatives in the U.K. to book them a flight back.
“Even if they did end up making contacts and joining ISIS, the average Western recruit was treated only marginally better than Western hostages,” Flocken said. “The most exciting thing these recruits got to do is clean up the latrines after the real fighters took shits, or sometimes they became stand-ins for fighters’ wives left at home — a huge disappointment for anyone who ever dreamed of firing an AK-47 at some helpless Yazidi schoolchildren.”
Flocken says his company’s tours take care of all the annoying travel details, and they provide clients with real, memorable jihadi experiences.
ISIS packages include the safe smuggling of travellers into northern Iraq or Syria, and they provide lodging with local families too afraid of ISIS to treat visitors like anything less than a caliph. After settling in, official representatives of ISIS show up in the middle of the night and encourage visitors to wear the standard ISIS uniform that resembles children’s ninja pajamas. Visitors can hold guns, terrorize innocent villagers, and take photos with real fighters.
Contiki is developing an ISIS Ultimate Dream package that will include two weeks of training at a desert camp. Afterwards, visitor will get to star in their very own recruitment video before being be used as cannon fodder.
“And who knows,” Flocken said with a wink. “If they’re lucky, visitors will even get a little martyred.”