Impact of Terrorism and Violence on Global Tourism

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According to World Travel and Tourism Council 1997, “Tourism Industry is the world’s prominent industries contributing $3.6 trillion to the global gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 255 million people”. (Apostolopoulos, Sonmez &Tarlow 1999). It is also considered one of the most exciting and progressive industries which has a big impact on all other industries. Although tourism industry has shown tremendous growth in recent years providing incredible experiences to its consumers yet it remains highly prone to natural (e.g. Tsunami, Hurricane & volcanic eruptions) and human caused calamities (e.g. war, crime & terrorism). This essay therefore discusses about terrorism in relation to tourism. It focuses on the impacts of terrorism on global tourism and provides an understanding of the relationship between political instability, terrorism and tourism.

Tourism, Political Instability and Violence

Definition of terrorism†:
´†The US Department of State defines terrorism as “. . . premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against civilians and unarmed military personnel by sub national groups...usually intended to influence an audience”†ª (Sihmez 1998)  Definition of political instability†:

´†Political instability describes the condition of a country where a government “has been toppled, or is controlled by factions following a coup, or where basic functional pre-requisites for social-order control and maintenance are unstable and periodically disrupted”†ª (Cook 1990, cited in Sihmez 1998). The study of D’Amore & Anuza 1986 states that, “Closer scrutiny of terrorism- for the purpose of understanding some of its underlying currents-begs a look at world conditions. As a new millennium is about to begin, nations wrestle with hunger, disease, and numerous other socioeconomic and environmental problems, which are further exacerbated by the alarming growth in the world’s population rate, the combination of which may nurture terrorism. It is suggested that terrorist organizations can easily recruit members by offering better conditions to people living in undesirable circumstances in undeveloped nations”.

Therefore, in a situation where terrorism is on rise, safety and stability are the two factors that cannot be ignored while undertaking travel to other countries. Over the years, tourism industry has undergone tremendous changes wherein crime and violence have increased to a great extent. Such exertions have had a big impact on tourists altering their travel. Political instability can be categorised into various forms such as: international war, riots, social unrest, civil war, terrorism etc.

“Most of the evidence on tourist motivations points to fear and insecurity as a major barrier to travel and thus a limitation on the growth of the industry. In addition to the openly stated fear there is often an expression of lack of interest in travel, which can mask an underlying fear. In these circumstances, the possibility of terrorism, however remote, will have an effect on the tourism demand of a large number of potential tourists.” (eds Mansfeld & Pizam1996)

Political instability and tourism can be best explained with an example of crackdown by Chinese government on students who protested in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square

In a volume edited by Mansfeld & Pizam (1996), “The sight of tanks rolling into the Square; the violent battles between students and troops; the steadfastly uncompromising attitude of Chinese authorities; it was all watched by the world on prime-time television. And most people living in free societies felt revulsion and anger; those planning holidays to China cancelled, while those with a vague notion of visiting the country put it...
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