Travel… Real & Fantasy

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

For some two decades I’ve snarled, ground my teeth, and bewailed to myself about the great positive publicity Turkey gets from all the write-ups and advertising in the LA Times Travel section.

No doubt various travel agencies as well as perhaps the government itself have also been showcasing their “wares” and travel shows worldwide, though that’s not something I’ve seen. Of course the pup-Turks of Azerbaijan are following at the heels of the genocidal state they want to emulate and appearing at travel shows, too.

The LA Travel and Adventure Show 2014 is taking place this weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center. It is billed as “the largest” of its kind. Turkey will be represented with not just one, but two, booths, and Azerbaijan will be there too. One of the Turkish booths is to be right at the entrance of the show and the largest there!

One of the Turkish booths will be concentrating on “Eastern Turkey” which of course is occupied Armenia. And that’s what’s so frustrating and annoying about all this. They are profiting from Armenian and other cultural legacies they have brutally usurped. Of course Azerbaijan is doing the same, focusing on Artsakh, again. Yes “again” because this is where it gets weird.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that when a country is led by a megalomaniac, the realm of fantasy is always near. The most prominent banner at Azerbaijan’s booth at the LA Times Travel show held January 17-18 is headlined “Karabakh – Crown Jewel of Azerbaijan”. Yes, you read that correctly. And, it’s a banner they’ve been using for at least a year or so, since one of my sources had observed it at an Orange County travel show, that long ago. These people are promoting a travel destination that they cannot deliver any of their potential customers to! What happens when someone wants to go there? Who knows? Maybe they’ve cut a back-door deal with some oligarch in the Republic of Armenia to shuttle them from Yerevan to Artsakh. But then, we also have to wonder, if the Azeris are encouraging travel to Artsakh, why are they blacklisting anyone who goes there?

An Azeri pamphlet featuring Karabakh

Of course this is all part of the “soft” propaganda that any country, especially one with image problems, loves to have. So it’s natural that the Azerbaijani consulate in Los Angeles has put out a promotional video about it (see below). What’s frustrating about this video is the glowing praise that a Devin Galaudet, travel writer who also has some affiliation with the Huffington Post, heaps on Azerbaijan after his trips there some three months ago. Are we doing these things? I am not aware, and I fear the answer is not affirmative.

The other bit of fantasy, if not farce, that came out of the January show is a “news” item appearing about it in “Trend”, an online Azeri so-called-news source. It is headlined “Armenian lobby fails to prevent Azerbaijan’s participation at Los Angeles Times Travel Show” but contains not a word about the matter until the penultimate sentence which reads: “It should be noted that despite various attempts by the Armenian lobby in California to prevent Azerbaijan’s participation at the show, these attempts have utterly failed.” What’s funny is, no one I spoke with knew anything about any effort our community has made in this vein. It’s possible some individuals did some work below the radar, of course. But, I’m more inclined to believe this is just the Azeris trying to slam us and appear heroic to their audiences.

It’s time our travel agents and the governments of our two republics started showcasing our cultural wealth. After all, we are the originators of the culture, not the thieves who are profiting from their ill-gotten gains.

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One Comment;

  1. karakeuz said:

    How do the azeris contemplate transporting tourists to Artsakh.?. There is nothing of muslim history, apart from a solitary mosque on the the top a hill near tigranakert, for any tourist to sight see in Artsakh and relate it to Azerbaijan . Once you set foot in Artsakh the air oozes Armenian history from end to end.

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