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The Link Between Terrorism and The Media: Is Tourism Affected?

The Link Between Terrorism and The Media: Is Tourism Affected?
Author: Laura Ellen Garfitt
2 Commentries
Terrorism is a strategy practiced by political, social groups against other political and social groups through acts of violence such as bombings, hijackings, assassination, murder etc. (Pizam and Smith, 2003:123). Many of these groups and organisations use terrorism in support of their political and religious beliefs. Events such as terrorism attacks damage tourist arrivals leading to serious consequences for tourism where the attacks have taken place, tourists fear is exaggerated by the publicity terrorism attacks generate. (Henderson, 2003: 42).

Tourist destinations have become terrorism attacks targets with the international visitors drawing more media attention on a global scale. When terrorism occurs, tourists practice their right to avoid dangerous destinations, they chose safer destinations or simply do not travel at all. Risk and crisis management has therefore become a feature of all tourism organisations and operators especially in destinations where terrorism attacks have occurred. Terrorist attacks can affect tourism short and long term with bookings declining or cancellations. The number of tourists has an effect on the number of terrorists; terrorists want to demand the economical situation of a destination and country through their attacks. Tourist areas also give the advantage to terrorists, as they are more likely to fit in and not be seen as suspicious. Tourism in religious areas can cause conflict and terrorism; western tourists in Islamic countries for example may exercise their normal behavior but can inspire terrorist attacks.

The public will witness more terrorism than ever due to ability of the media to cover terrorist attacks. (Paraskevas and Arendell, 2007: 1560). Terrorists secure media attention, when tourists are affected by terrorism or kidnapped and killed, the terrorist attack is immediately documented by the media and becomes worldwide news. The media can often find themselves in a predicament with having to report any terrorism attacks that happen but also being part of the cause of terrorist attacks in the first place. Terrorists want to be in the media as often as possible, their objective is to create fear amongst the public. Tourism as an industry is extremely sensitive and tourists needs to feel safe and secure has caused a loss of tourism in destinations where attacks have taken place.

ETA, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, which stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. ETA has been responsible for over 820 deaths over the last 40 years. ETA over the years has constantly targeted tourist attractions and areas in Spain. From 2000-2011 ETA have been responsible for hundreds of terrorist's attacks. The following attacks carried out by ETA were in highly populated tourist areas in Spain. In 2001, bombs exploded in Madrid and Alicante airport, in 2005, bombs exploded in the tourist resort of Villajoyosa. In 2006, further bombs explode in Madrid airport. In 2007, a family on holiday was kidnapped and their camper van blown up. In 2009, bombs exploded in Mallorca. Despite these attacks in the popular tourist destination that Spain is, many tourists have not heard about them, therefore the terrorist attacks carried out by ETA may not have affected tourism in Spain. The main reason for this is the fact that the European Media have played down on the coverage of these attacks. Spain has managed to recover from ETA's terrorist attacks due to the lack of reporting by the media. It\'s noteworthy that the BBC refuses to use the term \"terrorist\" when reporting on ETA. Such an approach is unacceptable, since it results in a distortion of reality and misinforms the public. The media simply does not see ETA as dangerous as other terrorist organisations in the world. Hence tourists do not see Spain as a dangerous destination to visit, despite the terrorism attacks.

Tourism is extremely sensitive to terrorism attacks. Terrorists want to control countries political and economical situation, by targeting highly populated tourism areas and destinations, terrorists are able to do this. The media attention from terrorist attacks involving tourists for example, 9/11 in New York and Washington and the Bali Bombings gains more media coverage for the terrorists. They're views and reasoning's for terrorism is heard and witness by the public. When a terrorist attack happens in a tourist destination, it can affect that destination both short and long haul. However in the case of ETA in Spain, the media coverage their terrorist attacks have gained from the European media has been played down, therefore the public have been less informed. Spain's tourism has not been as effected as other countries which have received more media coverage when terrorist attacks have happened, even though ETA have admitted to purposely attacking tourist areas in Spain.

Henderson, C. J. (2003) Terrorism and Tourism, Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, Vol. 15 (1), pp. 41-58.

Paraskevas, A. and Arendell, B. (2007) A Strategic Framework for Terrorism Prevention and Mitigation in Tourism Destinations, Tourism Management, Vol. 28, pp. 1560-1573.

Pizam, A. and Smith, G. (2000) Tourism and Terrorism: A Quantative Analysis of Major Terrorist Acts and their Impact on Tourism Destinations, Tourism Economics, Vol. 16 (2), pp. 123-138.
The Link Between Terrorism and The Media: Is Tourism Effected?
Author: Ami-louise Newman
At the start of this discussion paper, the definition of terrorism is covered well commenting on groups use terrorism to support religious and political beliefs. It could also be suggested that these groups also use terrorism to attack governments as well. Conrad et al (2005) states that 'over time, the terrorist groups wanted to get peoples pain and attentions, attack the economic systems of the society. Besides the religious mission of what they called the 'holy war', and also they might negotiate with the government and get what they want.'

There is only a slight discussion on how terrorism and the media are linked and its effect on tourism. This can be seen within the second to last paragraph when comments are made about how the media portrayed the bombing in Spain, this can also be seen within the last paragraph also. Reference is made to terrorist attacks in the USA and Bali where the media did cover the story; however more reference could be made to terrorism in the past and also terrorism currently in the Middle and Far East. Media coverage has been intense in Egypt especially during the 1996 and 1997 because of the Luxor bombing. Beirman (2003) a survey conducted in America said that the majority of respondents said that media reports were either a very or extremely important determinant in forming their opinion on whether a destination was safe or unsafe to visit.

Backing up Garfitt's comment on how terrorists want media coverage, during the 1997 Luxor Shooting, the Islamic Fundamentalists wanted to get international media attention; this would in turn defer tourists away from destination. This is also backed up by Essner (2003) that the media-indicator showed that the Luxor incident received more media reports than any of Egypt's previous terrorist attacks'. Although terrorism is covered by the media, it could also be suggested that it depends on how bad the attack was for the media to report it. Garfitt mentioned that the ETA terrorist attacks in Spain were played down by Spanish media, and then tourists would not be deterred away. It could also be suggested that it is up to how tourists perceive terrorism and its risks portrayed by the media.

Overall this paper comments on how terrorism and the media are linked and its effect on tourism, however, a more depth approach into how terrorism and media affects tourism. The tourism industry is affect by terrorism and the media has a part in this as discussed in this paper. More future research could be done by looking into perception of risk and how the media portray the risk of terrorism would show how these two factors effect tourism. This can be seen with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans felt that traveling to Egypt was dangerous because of their perception of the Middle East. El-Tablawy et al (2011) backs this up by saying 'foreign tourists look at the Middle East as on entity and they will avoid travelling to an area they consider unstable.'


Beirman, D. (2003) Egypt: Terrorist Attacks Against Tourists. Restoring Tourism Destinations in Crisis: Strategic Marketing Approach. Pp69-76

Conrad, D.K., Weng, S.C., Lai, L.C., Sun,. Y.C., and Wu. C.C. (2005). The Egyptian Travel and Tourism Industry: Recovering from Terrorism. The Egyptian Travel and Tourism Industry: Recovering from Terrorism, pp1-18

El-Tablawy, T., Schreck, A., Halaby, J., Yacoub, S.N., Koenig, D., and Mroue, B. (2011). Egypt's Economy hurt as Travellers avoid the unrest. New Hampshire Journal

Essner, J. (2003). Terrorism's Impact on Tourism: What the Industry may learn from Egypt's Struggle with al-Gama'a al-Islamiya. IPS 668 - Security Department. Dec 2003, pp10-14
Further Study of the Relationship Between Media, Terrorism and Tourism
Author: Matthew Burton
Garfitt introduces the definition of terrorism thoroughly, however doesn't introduce or describe what is mean by the term 'media', as the media can cover journalism, entertainment, documentaries and much more. The route by which terrorism, the media and tourism can be connected is expressed with great simplicity within the introduction and the discussion paper can be seen to follow this.

There is sufficient information provided to express the way in which tourist destinations are targeted by terrorist attacks, expressing a variety of different factors that can generate terrorism at a tourist destination. Whilst there is an abundance of literature on the negative effects of terrorism on a destination's tourism, Garfitt could have made use of a variety of examples to express the way in which destinations can benefit from terrorism. This can be seen using the example of the rebellions in North Africa and the corresponding rise in tourist numbers throughout the Mediterranean in 2010 (Tourism-review.com, 2010).

Garfitt relays the way in which terrorist organisations target tourism and tourists in order to secure media attention and generate fear. She also briefly mentions the way in which the media are the 'cause' of terrorist attacks, which would make more sense to the reader should she have explained how terrorism and the media are symbiotic, as is explained by Kellner (2005) who shows that the media needs terrorism in order to survive through human concern reporting and terrorism needs the media to generate, as he terms 'Weapons of Mass Hysteria'.

This paper does explain proficiently the way in which disinformation can be used to the benefit of tourism, using the example of terrorism in Spain and the lack of reporting, however little is said about the way in which the media can also be bias through its reporting of terrorism as there are numerous examples of the way the government control the countries media, specifically in western culture, one could look at the George Bush and Dick Cheney reign at the Whitehouse for example. To further this argument it can be seen through the article by Li and Brewer (2004) that a national bias against terrorism can be beneficial to a host country through a new perceived nativistic safety as well as a sense of patriotism.

The discussion culminates in an understanding that a decrease in the publicity of terrorist attacks, tourism can become less affected by terrorism. This could prove useful to the tourism industry, if the media could reduce the level of publicity; this however would throw up more complications through legal matters such as misinforming the public, which Garfitt does mention, however she does not mention that it could result in subsequent danger for tourism customers. The other issue depends on the level of state involvement in the media and its representation of terrorism; however this is not discussed within the paper.

Kellner, D. (2005) Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy. London: Paradigm Publishers.

Li, Q. and Brewer, M.B. (2004) What Does It Mean to Be an American? Patriotism, Nationalism and American Identity After 9/11. Political Psychology. 25 (5) pp.727-739.

Tourism-review.com. (2010) Travellers Head to Northern Mediterranean Instead of North Africa. Available at: <http://www.tourism-review.com/european-travelers-left-north-africa-and-the-middle-east-news2928> [Accessed 1st May 2012].