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


Terrorism impact on tourism and the recovery process

Written by: Korkmaz, Berk

University: Lincoln

I chose this paper as it is one of the current issues surrounding the travel industry. After the attack on the Trade Centre in New York, leaders worldwide started taking the terrorism matter more seriously and acting upon it (Kucukaltan, 2006). Considering that my travels consist of visiting European countries I decided to look at the attack that happened in Paris, France in order to assess the impact it has had on the tourism industry. In order to compare my analysis of France I also chose a destination outside of Europe, Egypt. I also wanted to look at a third destination which was going to be Colombia. However due to the limit of the project Colombia was decided not to be analysed in order to provide further analysis of France and Egypt. Looking at the impact the worldwide traditional and social media has had on the attacks that took place I was able to compare the impact of the attacks prior to the introduction of social media. Using the studies available I was also able to understand how countries could recover after a terrorist attack.

It is no surprise that after a terrorist attack, especially those which target the tourists, both the destination image and the GDP ( Gross Domestic Product) are impacted negatively (Frey, 2004). It is also argued that the destination image is impacted even more due to the fact that media coverage increases when terrorist attacks occur (Fyall & Garrod, 2005). Based on the arguments by these authors, I was thinking that the impacts on visitor numbers after a terrorist attack would have been impacted greatly. To a certain extent I was correct. Having analysed the visitor numbers for Paris prior and after the terrorist attacks that took place, it was evident that Paris suffered majorly from terrorist attacks. After the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, the hotel arrivals dropped by 2.8% between January and April 2015 (Le Tourisme à Paris Chiffres Cles, 2015). However analysed the attack that took place in November 2015, the foreign visitor arrivals in hotels dropped by 17.2% (Le Tourisme à Paris Chiffres Cles, 2015). The difference of arrival numbers after the attacks are evident and my hypothesis is that due to the higher number of casualties in November 2015, Paris suffered a higher decrease in their visitor numbers. As a frequent social media user, I can say that the Paris attack that took in November 2015 was covered to a further extent when compared to the Charlie Hebdo attack. Also it could be suggested that due different attacks which took place in November on the night of the biggest terrorist attack in the modern history of France, the worldwide media did cover the topic to a greater extent. Therefore it had a greater impact on the destination image.

I mentioned that I was correct to a certain extent regarding the visitor numbers dropping after terrorist attacks taking place. The reason for that is, having analysed the visitor numbers prior and after the attacks in Egypt. Using Trading economics website, which provided excellent statistics to my study, I was able to find visitor numbers for Egypt between the years of 1982 and 2017. As I wanted to analyse the impact of terrorist attacks prior and after social media, I chose to analyse the attacks and impacts for the years of 2003-2005. The attack that took place in Sinai, Egypt on 7 October 2004 occurred near a Hilton hotel. With that information I would have imagined that the visitor numbers would have been impacted negatively to a great extent. However not only did the attacks not impact the visitor numbers, Egypt also saw an increase in their visitor numbers when compared to the same period in 2003. The terrorism index provided by Trading Economics also suggested that there was an increase in terrorism numbers and when considering this information it was extremely surprising that there was no decrease in the visitor numbers in Egypt. My hypothesis is that due to the fact that social media was not as popular then as it is today, the attacks that took place in Egypt did not have the same impact as the Paris attacks. However it could be argued that the Sinai peninsula in Egypt was avoided and tourists chose to visit other destinations in Egypt. Due to the little information available in that area a distinct conclusion cannot be made regarding my hypothesis.

The final hypothesis I drew out based on my findings was that the foreign embassies provided different information to their citizens after attacks. The Paris attacks showed that embassies urged their citizens in Paris at the time to take extra caution. Whereas the US embassy has strictly urged their citizens in Turkey to avoid Adana recently. This was only based on intel gathered and after a terrorist attack that took place. Although some may argue that they were looking after their citizens, it could be argued that the US embassy has not urged their citizens to avoid Paris. My hypothesis is that had the US embassy and the other foreign embassies urged their citizens to avoid Paris, the decrease in visitor numbers would have been higher.

For the recovery process Agness Huff, CEO of Agnes Huff communications suggested that any promotional ideas should be avoided until the worldwide media has reduced their coverage on the attacks and enough time was given for grievance. However the tourism body in France decided to implement promotions a month after a month of the attacks despite the worldwide media coverage being at the peak on the terrorist attacks that took place. Agness Huff’s suggestion could have been valuable in order to increase visitor numbers as Paris did not see any increase in their visitor numbers until march 2016.


Fyall, A. and Garrod, B. (2005). Tourism marketing. 1st ed. New Delhi: Viva Books Private Ltd.

Küçükaltan, D. (2006). Tourism and terrorism. 1st ed. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse

Tourism in Paris - Key Figures 2014

Tourism in Paris - Key Figures 2015

Trading Economics Egypt visitor numbers: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/egypt/tourist-arrivals