Whether it is the devastating attacks across Paris, or the violent execution of tourists in Sousse, Tunisia, terrorism can definitely have devastating consequences on tourism flows to a country. According to the foreign office, summer holiday favourites such as Spain and Turkey have been given the same terror level as Libya and Somalia.
Words: Eireann Beardon, Subeditor: Shannon Cowley
Terrorism always aims to instil the kind of fear that will have people change their behaviour. Recently terror groups have been specifically targeting tourist areas, and perhaps changing people’s perception of the country as a whole.
The pictures below show the countries the foreign office have deemed as unfit for Britons, mainly due to conflict on the ground and a high risk of kidnapping.
North and South America:
So, let’s put that in perspective of the whole world:
“Of course we have seen a decline in travel to countries where terror attacks have happened,” said James McCann, a travel agent of seven years. “After the Paris attacks people were even scared to travel to London, I had more than one customer call to change their starting airport away from London because they thought we were at higher risk of an attack ourselves.”
McCann believes places like Tunisia will only be affected short term. “Many airlines refunded holidays to Tunisia this summer, but we still had many more booking in September, only three months after the attack… so although terrorism is having an effect, people do forget.
“I know many tour companies are now slashing the prices to places like Tunisia and Sharm [El-Sheikh] and believe it or not people are actually booking. At the end of the day it all comes down to money and if the price is right, you’re going to get people that think this outweighs the risks.”
Some Twitter users were angry when their summer holidays were cancelled:
I’m a very angry bunny just now,my holiday to Tunisia has been cancelled by my travel agent,I know what I’d do with these terrorists 😡😡😡
— Lorraine Martin (@Lorraine1935) November 17, 2015
Gutted my holiday to Tunisia is cancelled. Now to try and find another location ☀️
— Lauren Potts (@LaurenPotts3) July 9, 2015
Although most of the countries highlighted by the foreign office are in Asia and Africa, we have seen major terror attacks closer to home, in neighbouring countries and of course London. But according to official statistics, the number of people visiting London after the 2005 bombings did not decline.
More recently, we saw Brussels put on lockdown due to the threat of a terrorist attack on a similar scale to Paris.
London student Catherine Sponze is currently taking a year abroad to study in Belgium. She told of her experience in the capital at the time of the threat.“We were not allowed to leave our hostel at all, I would be walking to my friends room and I’d get pulled aside by the staff telling me to go back to my room.
“One of them even knocked on my door because they could see me looking out my window and said everyone had been told to specifically stay away from windows in case of impact and to stay completely out of sight.
“It was terrifying, because in that situation I didn’t even know I was doing anything wrong, so I could be doing other things wrong too. I was constantly calling my mum to let her know I was okay, but then worried that call could be intercepted and they would know British people were in the hostel. I know British tourists have been targeted before.
“Not being told anything and being confined to your room makes you over think everything and wonder if there’s anything more you could be doing.” Fortunately Catherine was not injured and has decided to continue with her year abroad despite Brussels still being on high terror alert: “I mean, I did think about coming home, but you can’t always live your life in fear. It could happen in London, it could happen anywhere.”
France was set to a high terror alert long before the devastating terror attacks, which left 130 people dead. The foreign office have stated on their website: “Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against ISIL, the French government has warned the public to be extra vigilant and reinforced its own domestic and overseas security measures.” After the attack, many holidays to the capital were cancelled.
It is not only after a specific attack that tourism falls, countries close to the Syrian border have had their tourism affected due to the threat of the country being overrun by terrorism. Kenya’s tourism fell by 25% in the first five months of 2015, Egypt’s tourism minister has said he expects the number of visitors to the country to fall by 13%, and Turkey continue to see a drop in foreign visitors.
So, is terrorism affecting your decision when booking a holiday?
But we must remember not all travellers are the same, research shows people looking for exotic locations may sometimes ignore the risks. To some extent we may be over reacting to these incidents. We’ll happily drive to work, but panic about getting on a plane, and some people will light up another cigarette whilst worrying about being killed by a terrorist.
Here are some things more likely to kill you than an act of terror: