Category:  Politics

The Effects of Terrorism on Tourism

Since the end of the Nineteenth century, the number of terror attacks has increased at an alarming rate. The prime motivating factor for terror attacks is to inspire fear within a certain group of people. Inducing an anxious climate is supposed to encourage people to make decisions they usually would not, due to urgency or concern.

Recently, the idea of a “carry on as normal” response has been popular following terror attacks. Pro tennis star Andy Murray said “we need to live our lives as normal, or the terrorists win.”

This week, Brussels fell victim to ISIS when five bombs detonated Tuesday morning. Since the terror attacks in November, European officials have been keeping an eye on Belgium as a terrorist breeding ground.

Surprisingly, after terror attacks travelers seem to become forgetful when it comes to the “climate of nervousness” that was previously present. Short-term consequences may be impactful, but long-term conditions seem to bounce back to normalcy relatively quickly. Europe was supposed to stabilize quickly after the attacks last year, but after this week no one can be certain.

Belgium was preparing for its peak tourism season, spring. Many people travel through Europe during spring break. Although, Brussels is not necessarily a prime tourism destination, it is an important hub of transportation for travelers going across the European Union. Since several attacks have occurred over the last 15 months in Europe, and tourists were the target of the latest instance, recovery could take longer than expected.

Not only will Belgium’s tourism industry be hindered, but London, Paris, Madrid, and Turkey will face the far-reaching consequences. Repercussions include increased restaurant, hotel, and aviation reservations cancellations, decreased amounts of taxi riders, lower shopping turnouts, and diminished attendance at attractions. After 9/11 it took the U.S. 45 months to make a full recovery, Madrid needed a full year to return to normalcy after the train bombings, and London recovered in nine months.

The owner of a large European tour agency, Thomas Cook, announced this week that his company has suffered significant losses stemming from the extremist actions in Europe. He blames the serious decrease in tourism on the “volatile geopolitical backdrop” the European Union is currently experiencing.

Countries that already have extensive recovery plans in place tend to have a higher elasticity. After the London bombings, it was not long before hotel reservations rose to average standards. But, Bali suffered an extended recovery time following its 2002 car bombings, because beforehand it did not have any safety precautions in place. Bali waited until after being attacked to create detailed precautionary strategies and recovery plans.

If a country cannot recover, it faces the threat of increased homelessness, higher unemployment rates, more crime, and deflated value. Tourism in Colombia has flourished in recent years as a result of its extensive and impressive security standards. It is necessary for officials to continue adapting and implementing new safety features into regulations and legislation.

Belgians who spoke with reporters this week said how odd it felt seeing so many armed guards around their neighborhoods. Some felt at ease with the increased police presence, others felt annoyed. Another group believed increased patrol officers are strictly in place to make citizens feel better, not because they are actually making the environment safer.

In Belgium, it has become evident that the number of outdoor social gatherings has tumbled since the numerous attacks in Europe last year. Citizens have even commented on the change in the overall mood of the country. The mood has evolved to a more withdrawn and wary vibe.

Airlines fear that increased security measures could push travelers away, bothered by the hassle of longer check-in lines and more aggressive searches. Since the Charlie Hebdot attacks, France has increased its security spending, and has also remained the number one tourist destination in the world.

Tourism is a vital part of most economies. In France it is responsible for seven percent of the GDP. For all of Europe, it accounts for 10 percent of the yearly income. After the September 11th attacks, New York City reportedly lost $3.3 trillion. After the recent attacks in Paris, the city of love is expected to lose tens of billions of dollars. The Boston bombings left the city with $438 million in damages.

Foreigners are known to be frivolous and extravagant spenders. Losing their dollars could send Europe back into a recession. These back-to-back attacks have depleted any previous sense of consumer confidence. This week most tourism related stocks dropped by as much as four percent..

Losses resulting from terror attacks reach far beyond hotel room bookings. Officials often have to shut down entire cities to conduct an investigation, plus hire more staff to investigate and rebuild damaged property. They also close their borders, which eliminates the possibility of terrorists coming in, but also stops cash flow.

The number of vacation days workers have been cashing in on has decreased. Employees have been utilizing the days granted to them, believing the hard work they do deserves some reward. Countries desperate to rebound from attacks should lower their prices, to attract foreigners.

Another helpful tool: reminding tourists where they are. Some people are blind to the actual location of some destinations, simply assuming they are near danger zones when they are actually quite far from them. In 2010, the chance of an American being killed in Europe during an attack was the same as the chance of being killed by a tornado, one in three million.

Oddly, there are some travelers who live for the thrill of danger. These tourists are drawn to locations that have recently experienced a terrorist attack. Travelers like these are willing to risk their lives for the excitement involved with vacationing in Afghanistan.

Experienced travelers are also less likely to back out of prearranged accommodations following a terrorist attack or threat. As long as they are aware of the risks before hand, they see no need to opt out of their trip. This week after the bombings, Belgian officials warned travelers to avoid areas with mass amounts of people, stay away from locations where foreigners often gather, and stay vigilant.

In times like these, it is more important than ever that countries come together to support and collaborate with one another.

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