2017: Towards equal tourism participation and inclusive working environments: access, security and wellbeing  >  The politics of tourism securitisation: citizens, tourists and terrorists


Are tourists the only victims? The effect of terrorism on local communities in Turkey.

Written by: Talbot, Kelly

University: Lincoln

Abstract: The aim of this discussion paper is to explore the effect of terrorism on local communities in Turkey as a mass tourism destination. Tourism within Turkey is one of the main sources of economic income, and the threat of terrorism impacts upon financial gain for the country. In relation to local communities, terrorism does not only affect them financially through precarious work in the tourism industry and unemployment, but also in terms of fear and lack of security, damage to their property and the developing stigma and Islamophobia attached to residents of the affected areas. This research aims to perhaps fill gaps in the literature in the hope that it helps others understand how these acts of terrorism impact upon local communities.

Key words: terrorism, Turkey, local, communities, mass tourism, economy, unemployment, fear, stigma

Are tourists the only victims? The effect of terrorism on local communities in Turkey.

Is it really only the tourist who is affected by the ongoing threat of terrorism? Within this discussion paper, the effects of terrorist attacks on the local communities in these affected areas will be explored, with particular reference to Turkey as a mass tourism destination. This topic area has not been thoroughly researched, and there is the opportunity to fill the gaps in academic literature, especially as there has been increased interest in relation to terrorism and political instability within the tourism industry. An in-depth analysis of previous research undertaken by academics around the topic, together with a review of official statistics on tourist arrivals, will be carried out to further investigate the effects of terrorism on these affected communities.

Many academic authors argue that terrorism is a difficult concept to define, and Townshend (2002) suggests that the term ‘terrorist’ is a negatively connotated label which is attached to an individual or group by the government, media or general public of the destination they have targeted. Within UK legislation under the Terrorism Act 2000, acts of terrorism are defined as the use or threat of action which involves serious violence, damage to property or the risk to the health and safety of the general public. The tourism industry is very sensitive to acts of terrorism, especially within mass tourism destinations like Turkey which depend on tourist arrivals as one of their main sources of income. The risk attached to these affected areas acts as a major deterrent to tourists who are more likely not to choose to visit due to safety and security concerns. This in turn affects the local communities of these destinations as many of the residents of these locations would work within the tourism industry, perhaps in hotels, attractions, restaurants for example. With a lack of tourist arrivals and expenditure, work could become precarious or perhaps non-existent for these employees.

It can be understood that Turkey is one of the destinations hardest hit by terrorist attacks, as the environment is very politically unstable and terrorism affects the overall economy as tourism provides considerable economic benefits for the country (Feridun, 2010). As a mass tourism destination, the employment opportunities the industry provides Turkish residents are also significant, with people running their own businesses within the sector or being employed by larger firms within the destinations. Terrorism has been said to lead to unemployment and homelessness within host communities.

On analysis of statistics relating to total arrivals to Turkey over the past 6 years, it can be seen that there was a significant drop from 36.3 million arrivals in 2015 to an estimated 29.5 million in 2016. On further exploration of the situation between these two years, it can be seen that Turkey’s capital city Ankara and major tourism areas suffered severe terrorist attacks and casualties within a short space of time. Looking at international arrivals in particular, as the majority of Turkey’s tourism comes from outside of the country, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism found within their statistics that the number of international visitors dropped from 36.2 million arrivals in 2015 to 25.4 million in 2016, a loss of almost 10 million visitors in just a year. Within analysis of the literature, it would seem that Turkey relies heavily on arrivals for economic benefit. In line with this drop in arrivals, Turkey would see a loss in income from the tourism industry. As referred to beforehand, many local residents would work within the sector or run their own businesses earning through self-employment. The lack of visitors would therefore lead to them losing money, finding themselves in financial hardship, without reasonable working hours or ultimately unemployed.

Other negative effects local communities suffer as a result of terrorist attacks include damage to property and livelihoods and the fear and securitisation issues people may face. There has also been some research into the negative stereotypes attached to Muslim communities within these areas. It has been understood that the prejudice local people suffer limits the future opportunities of those who live in these stigmatised destinations (Paul and Becker, 2017). These areas, however, require more research as very little has been written around these topics. It is therefore important to fully understand the implications local people in affected destinations face, not just how they are affected financially by lack of arrivals, but also emotionally, physically and in relation to future prospects.

Feridun, M. (2010) Impact of terrorism in Turkey: empirical evidence from Turkey. Applied Economics, 43(24) 3349-3354.

Paul, C. and Becker, S. (2017) “People Are Enemies to What They Don’t Know” Managing Stigma and Anti-Muslim Stereotypes in a Turkish Community Center. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 46(2) 135-172.

Townshend, C. (2002) Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Unique topic of study which could be valuable for the future

Written by: Korkmaz, Berk

University: Lincoln

The overall summary of the conference paper reads well and the introductory paragraph gives an understanding as to what the readers should expect.

One of the main reasons I have decided to analyse this conference paper was due to the uniqueness of the title. I have seen many studies and findings based on terrorism and the impact it has on tourism yet majority of those studies focus on the tourists or visitor numbers. Whereas the author of this study has included the aforementioned factors as well as mentioning the emotional and physical impact terrorism has on the locals. I believe that this study can be the ground work for future studies in order to analyse the impact terrorism has on the local communities both emotionally and physically. Such analysis can be used in order to develop psychiatric treatments for those that suffer greatly after the attacks.

It could be suggested that in order to develop this study further, analysing the long history of the Turkish government dealing with the terrorist group PKK could provide valuable evidence in order to understand emotional impacts terrorism has on the local communities. This would also allow for the emotional impact terrorism has caused in the country to be analysed in the national level.

Finally, the author has demonstrated great ability to understand the impact terrorism has on Turkey. However Turkey is a large country and in order to assess the impact of terrorism on local communities certain locations might have been better to be chosen as it would have allowed for a more in-depth analysis. Keeping in mind that it is very difficult to step foot to certain locations towards the eastern side of Turkey, it could be beneficial for the future of this study to focus on the citizens who have had to relocate due to the damage terrorism has had on local communities. Considering the fact that it may be difficult to track the citizens who have relocated and ethical issues could arise from this research, the destinations who have had the highest number of decrease in their visitor numbers, in a certain period of time could be the starting point of analysis.