Travel risks have been widely examined by tourism researchers, the shocks that have occurred since 2000 have negatively impacted the worldwide tourism industry in the twenty-first century (Law, 2006).
Keywords: risk perceptions; terrorism, travel
According to Dickinson and Dolincar (2004) the concept of risk is central to tourist behaviour. Risk clearly plays a major role in the decision making process of tourists (Roehl and Fesenmaier, 1992). Tourism is an industry where both demand and supply can be sensitive to extreme events such as terrorism or political violence (Ritcher and Waugh 1986; Ryan 1993). The recent phenomena of terrorist attacks have imposed and unprecedented threat to the global tourism industry (Law, 2006). Such events are unpredictable and provide major difficulties for the tourism industry.
The need for travel has widely been documented in existing tourism literature. In the tourism industry, there are a number of factors that influence decisions about where to travel, whether it's for business purposes, leisure, relaxation, vacation, visiting friends and relatives and other reasons (Levantis and Gani, 2000; Gunn and Var, 2002).
Moreover, terrorism has an impact on tourists prior to travelling to a destination, as well as whilst there at that destination. Travel risks have been widely examined by tourism researchers, the shocks that have occurred since 2000 have negatively impacted the worldwide tourism industry in the twenty-first century (Law, 2006). Some examples include the September 11th terrorists' attacks in New York and the Bali bombing in 2002.
A number of studies have concentrated on the role the mass media plays in affecting people's perceptions of crises (Hall, 2002: Glaesser, 2004). Both disasters and what the media portrays cause changes in perceptions that affect people's intentions to travel (Sönmez and Graefe, 1998; Floyd et al., 2004) which has an effect upon a destination.
The Bali bombing in October 2002, which killed 202 people (most of whom were tourists) (BBC, 2002) is an example of the role the media plays in affecting people's perceptions. The terrorists gained power as a political weapon through the mass media coverage of the event. Tourists were targeted, which had both short- and long-term effects on Bali's tourism industry. Furthermore, the persistent acts of terrorism tarnished the image the destination's safety and attractiveness to such an extent that it jeopardised the tourism industry (Sönmez et al., 1999).
Scholars agree that terrorists have much to gain by targeting tourists. Terrorists achieve strategic objectives by targeting tourists. Terrorists have instrumental advantage by disrupting the tourism industry when targeting tourists. Not only, have attacking tourists provides terrorists with instrumental advantage by disrupting the tourism industry and assuring publicity also by gravitating toward international tourists and facilities (Sönmez et al, 1999). When countries are dependent on tourism receipts, terrorists attacks on tourists cause foreign exchange receipts to decline (Hall and O'Sullivan, 1996). This has caused tourists to avoid travelling to that destination.
George (2003) indicated that if a tourist felt unsafe or threatened at a holiday destination; he or she could develop a negative impression of the destination, which likely would result in several consequences. Tourists who have a negative impression may decide not to visit the destination due to the reputation it has, for example high crime rate. Additionally, if tourists feel unsafe at a destination, they are not likely to take part in activities outside their accommodation facility. However, this is due to the fact that tourists are more vulnerable to disasters than residents as they are unfamiliar with the destination, they are unaware of hazards and they are more prone than others. Finally, a tourist who feels threatened or unsafe is not likely to return to the destination, and they are not likely to recommend the destination to others (George, 2003).
Safety is a major factor that tourists consider when making destination choices (Shaw & Williams, 2002; Faulkner, 2001; Sönmez, 1998). Cases from around the world show that in places where tourists perceive a potential danger from crime, terrorism or political instability, those destinations experience large decreases in overall visitation (Seddighi and Theicharous, 2002; Pizam, 1999; Sönmez, 1998; Hall & O' Sullivan, 1996; O'Neil &Fritz, 1996; Schwarz, 1991).
Tourism activity has been found to increase when terrorism risk is removed (Sönmez et al., 1999). For example, after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, there was an influx of tourists to New York (Jones et al, 2006).
Safety is clearly a major factor that tourists consider when making destination choices. Tourists who have a negative impression of a destination in mind are unlikely to visit that destination due to the reputation it has. If a tourist feels unsafe or threatened at a holiday destination; it develops a negative impression of which leads to a decrease in visitor number to that destination.
The tourism industry's vulnerability to terrorism is proportionate to its reliance on peace and stability. With careful planning, sustainable tourism may diminish the causes of terrorism. This in return would reduce perceived travel risks and increase peace in communities.
Law, R (2006) The perceived impact of risks on travel decisions. International Journal of Tourism Research 8(4), 289-300
Pizam, A and Smith, G (2000) Tourism and terrorism: a quantitative analysis of major terrorist acts and their impact on tourism destinations. Tourism Economics, 6(2), 123-138.
Sonmez S, Apostolopoulous Y, Tarlow P (1999) Tourism in crisis: managing the effects of terrorism. Journal of Travel Research, 38(1), 13-18.