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War in Somalia's South, Tourism in the North

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While war grips the horn of Africa in Somalia’s south, a brand new industry is growing in the north - tourism.


A new tourism agency in Somalia’s northern autonomous region of Somaliland called STTA (Somaliland Travel and Tourism Agency) is extending their hand out to the international community.


“Come see what we have to offer,” said Abdinasir Ibrahim, Deputy Manager for STTA.


The agency, which has been open for a little over a year, has been offering foreigners a glimpse into northern Somalia -- a self declared independent region of 3.5 million people, and even though it has managed to find relative calm amidst a violent war in the south, the international community does not recognize it as a country.


“Most people have a bad image of Somalia -- the piracy, Islamic militants and the war in Mogadishu,” said Ibrahim. “When people come here, they see how people live, how they work and the peaceful situation.”


Earlier this year, Somaliland made headlines for what international observers called the first free election in Somalia with over 1 million registered voters electing Ahmed M. Mohamoud Silanyo as their president. The elections were considered to have been fair with relatively low violence.


“Seeing is believing,” said Ibrahim. “Once they see Somaliland, only then will they understand that we are very different.”


In the one-year STTA has been open for business, they have hosted tourists from all over the world including South Africa, Hungary, Serbia and America.


“We’ve had 21 American tourists come visit, and even an 82-year-old woman from Japan,” said Ibrahim. “We weren’t sure how she was going to climb the mountains, but she did.”


Tourists of Somaliland can expect to explore archeological sites, but also a rugged dry and what some tourist exclaim as a beautiful coastline that is exclusive to the horn of Africa.




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