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Is it possible for a post-crisis destination to reach the levels of tourism prior to a crisis?

Is it possible for a post-crisis destination to reach the levels of tourism prior to a crisis?
Author: Hinesh Modi
1 Commentries
The tourism industry is like any other industry as it is subject to disruptions and shocks; however the tourism industry is more vulnerable to shocks and disruptions compared to many other industries. (Cooper et al, 2008). There are three reasons according to Cooper et al. (2008) as to why the tourism industry is more susceptible. Firstly the tourism industry is a highly perishable service sector industry, secondly unlike other industries in tourism the consumer must travel to a certain destination in order for tourism to take place and finally the tourism industry depends on the surrounding environment. These shocks and/or disruptions can be labelled as disasters or crises, which can categorised as natural or manmade. According to Bierman (2003) a crisis can be defined as an act of man or nature that transforms the reputation, desirability and marketability of the most popular tourism destinations in an instance.

The most well known manmade disasters are wars such as the Gulf War in 1991 and terrorist attacks such as 9/11 in 2001 and the attack on the London transport network in 2005. It is important to consider what impacts these disasters can have upon a destination, therefore this paper will look at the effects of terrorism in the tourism industry and whether or not destinations have been able to recover and if they have then how have they done this.

Many of the attacks mentioned may not directly be associated with the tourism industry but they involved certain aspects of the tourism industry, such as the attacks in 2001 in New York where a passenger aircrafts were used as the weapon. Prior to the September 11th 2001 attacks on the twin towers in New York, tourist arrivals for the year 2000 stood at 36.2 million visitors with 6.8 million being international visitors and the remaining 29.4 million being domestic visitors. Also for the year 2000 hotel occupancy levels were at a high of 86.4% and the total number of flights at New York airports amounting to 1.2 million for the year. (NYC & Company, 2012). Furthermore according to NYC & Company in Bierman (2003) it is suggested that the economic impact of tourism in New York City was US$24.96 billion.

The terrorist attacks which took place on September 11th 2001 then had a major impact upon not only New York but the USA as a whole. News of the attacks spread worldwide and this impacted the tourism industry. Bierman (2003) states that the impact on the USA airline industry was swift and devastating, as shortly after the attacks American Airlines cut its scheduled flights by 20 percent and removed around 20,000 jobs. In addition to this by November 2001 just two months after the attacks the USA airline industry had shed around 116,000 jobs. The impact of the attacks was felt worldwide with Air Canada having a loss of 20,000 jobs and British Airways cut 15 percent of their flights along with cutting 7,000 jobs. (Bierman, 2003)

Despite hotels reducing their room rates hotel occupancy fell in 2002 along with the tourist numbers. For the year 2002 occupancy levels were at 75.6% in comparison to the year 2000 where it stood at 84.6%. (NYC & Company, 2012)

The United States however faced a marketing crisis as unlike other countries lacked a centralised tourism marketing authority, the likes of which destinations such as the United Kingdom and Turkey possessed (Bierman, 2003). Despite these restrictions it was vital that the USA and more specifically New York took some sort of action and implemented at least one of the strategies developed by Avraham and Ketter (2007).

The implementation of the strategies suggested by Avraham and Ketter (2007) and the use of the correcting marketing tools certainly seemed to work as come 2003/2004 tourist arrivals once again began to rise with the majority of the tourists being domestic.

Over time however New York was able to restore its image and security as in 2010 saw tourist arrivals reach a ten year high with 48.8 million visitors of which 39.1 million were domestic - a figure greater than the number of tourists arrivals for both domestic and international in 2000 which stood at 36.2 million in total (NYC & Company, 2012)

In conclusion 9/11 has shown clearly that it is possible to bounce back from the events and it's possible for the destination to be rejuvenated. This however is only possible if the correct methods and strategies are implemented, this is where the strategies developed by Avraham and Ketter (2007) play a major part. By following the strategies and conducting the right forms of marketing as done by New York, in this instance a destination can reach levels prior to the crisis, furthermore New York now has more tourist arrivals compared to pre 9/11.


Beirman, D. (2003) Restoring Tourism Destinations in Crisis: A Strategic Marketing Approach. Oxon: CABI.

Cooper, C., Fletcher, J., Fyall, A., Gilbert, D. and Wanhill, S. (2005) Tourism Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

NYC & Company (2012) [Online] NYC Statistics. (No Date) http://www.nycgo.com/articles/nyc-statistics-page [Cited 22.04.2012].
Commentary on: Is it possible for a post-crisis destination to reach the levels of tourism prior to a crisis?
Author: Stephan Dahlheim
The author discusses, if it 'is possible for a post-crisis destination to reach the levels of tourism prior to a crisis'. Therefore, he first differentiates the terms tourism and crisis, which supports the readers' basic knowledge of the following discussion paper. Within the next paragraph, he describes what his work will be focused on: the effects of terrorism on the tourism industry and how countries and destinations attempted to recover from attacks.

In the following he explains various interesting statistics according to New York City, in particular the numbers of domestic and international visitors and their economic impact on the tourism industry in New York City before the 9/11 attacks. This shows that the author has undertaken comprehensive research in order to provide these facts. Later on, he describes the impacts of the attack and focuses on the airline and hotel industry. The statistics, which he mentions develop his arguments and illustrate the impact very well. Again, these points show that the author has understood the topic and therefore, he presents his researched knowledge in a very good way.

Within the next paragraphs, he shows what the United States of America have done in order to get back tourists. He casually mentions the USA in comparison to the United Kingdom and Turkey, which could have been taken into further depth, to underline the argument. Moreover, he states that New York City has implemented a strategy by Avraham and Ketter (2007), but he barely describes what that strategy is. This would have been a good addition to the work, because it would show what the city and the USA exactly did. Furthermore, he describes these points in a very compact way, but finally shows that these strategies succeeded. He underlines that with some statistics, which show that the number of visitors to New York City increased from 2003/2004 and in 2010 the level of tourists was higher than in 2000. With that fact he answers his actual question and shows that it is possible not just to recover from a crisis but also to increase the level of tourism after an attack.

The only point that I would criticize is the fact that he wanted to focus on destinations and their actions, but finally only refers to the USA and in particular New York City. However, this discussion paper was interesting to read despite some points, which could have been strengthened and the provided statistics and facts show the knowledge of the author about the topic. Granted, that marketing has a high impact on tourists and influences their decision making process the most, but what I would suggest is that this work could be taken into further depth by referring to legal acts that the USA has undertaken in order to re-establish security and prevent further attacks, because this is an integral part of the recovery process as well.