9/11 shook the world as it was the worst terrorist attack of modern times, causing numerous implications on tourists desires to travel. Despite the introduction of new security measures air travel was still perceived to be unsafe.
Key terms: Terrorism, 9/11, safety and security.
The US Department of State define terrorism as 'the premeditated use or threat of violence by individuals or sub national groups to obtain a political or social objective' this often extends beyond the immediate victims.
Tuesday 11th September 2001 saw the most influential act of terrorism for the tourism industry as impacts were dramatic, widespread and long lasting. Consequently this caused tourists desires to travel by air to alter, resulting in downturns in air passenger numbers by up to 50%. In turn 9/11 caused the first year of negative growth in the travel business for two decades. However, the full extent of the impacts will never be known as tourism growth reached its peak prior to the attacks.
The terrorist attacks caused passenger numbers and occupancy rates to reduce significantly as tourists became reluctant to travel. The 9/11 attacks had numerous knock on effects to the worldwide economy, it has been estimated up until 2002 that the attacks cost $36 billion.
The airline industry was the hardest hit with an abundance of airlines making cut backs with American Airlines and United Airlines cutting 20,000 jobs. Both British Airways and Air Canada also cut 5,000 jobs due to declining passenger numbers. This was the due to the global airline industry losing one-third of its flights, fleets, crew and passengers after 9/11.
The attacks impacted on tourists desires to travel as it made them feel unsafe and unwilling to travel, this can be identified by 4 million less international arrivals worldwide in 2001 compared to the previous year. Various studies since 9/11 have highlighted that tourists are likely to alter their holidaying patterns if the threat of terrorism increases. For example Floyd et al (2004) report on Simmons Market Research (2001) which found 39% of people surveyed said the 9/11 attacks would affect their travel plans. Crotts et al (2007) results were more dramatic with 84% of respondents agreeing that they would be less willing to travel due to an act of terrorism. However, Tate's (2002) findings were surprising as only 3% of respondents felt safety was a primary concern when travelling, despite 9/11 happening a couple of months before. Floyd and Pennington-Gray's (2004) research shows some support for Tate's (2002) research as being targets of terrorism was not considered as a main issue. However, 69% of Americans did make alterations to their leisure plans because of the attacks.
Travellers' decisions to visit highly populated Muslim countries suffered with declining tourist arrivals, as they were considered to be risky destinations. Yet arrivals to the Balearic Islands and other European destinations saw increases in tourist arrivals.
As a result of the attacks the American federal government introduced new legislation and additional security measures including; screening of all bags, increased surveillance, a new permit system and random searches on passengers. In addition all foreign visitors would also be fingerprinted and photographed to identify if anybody is on the terrorist watch list and a national criminal database. Later in 2006 the EU agreed that American Intelligence agencies could have access to personal information about transatlantic passengers, in order to increase safety and improve security. These new enforcements were supported by the development of the Department of Homeland Security who established a new airport security department Transport Security Administration.
It was hoped that these measures would restore passenger faith in aviation however; developments were met with limited success due to the emergence of the 'hassle factor'. This is where increased security measures become a burden on the traveller, for example passengers now have to arrive two/three hours before the flight is due to take off and long delays caused because of the additional screening. Consequently this further turned people away from air travel and towards road or rail transport.
The media manipulate what we know and learn about the world often failing to show a true reflection. However, 9/11 to a large extent was different as the media altered its attention to show support for the thousands of people that lost their lives in this catastrophic event, rather than the rationale behind the attack. In turn this could help to restore and regain desires to travel by air once again.
Overall the 9/11 attacks had numerous impacts worldwide as tourists' desires to travel altered with safety becoming a major concern. Despite the introduction of new security measures people still turned away from air travel. This in turn had many knock on effects for the tourism industry and many other industries that are indirectly related, as tourists' attitudes to air travel changed.
Floyd, M, F, Gibson, H, Pennington-Gray, L and Thapa, B. (2004). The Effect of Risk Perceptions on Intentions to Travel in the Aftermath of September 11, 2001. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing. 15 (2/3) 19-38.
Goodrich, J, N. (2002). September 11, 2001 attack on America: A Record of the Immediate Impacts and Reactions in the USA Travel and Tourism Industry. Tourism Management. 23 (6) 573-580.
Tate, P. (2002). The Impact of 9/11: Caribbean, London and NYC Case Studies. Travel and Tourism Analyst. 5 (1) 1-25.