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Impacts of terrorism on the tourists

Impacts of terrorism on the tourists
Author: Tomasz Jench
4 Commentries

This paper will clearly demonstrate the impacts that terrorism and their acts influence the tourists. It will bring forward a number of case studies which determine how countries such as Egypt or Spain suffered after a terrorist act.


Tourism and terrorism are two terms that are highly linked together, this occurs as terrorism impacts the tourists and the whole tourism industry in a vast amount of ways, moreover terrorist attacks on the tourists generate a vast amount of media attention with the primary goal of attaining widespread publicity (Mansfeld and Pizam, 2006). There is a vast amount of classifications of terrorism, however the most common type is international terrorism and organizational terrorism.
As it has been mentioned before the link between tourism and terrorism is unquestionably strong, due to the fact that the tourism industry is one of the strongest industries in the world just next to the telecommunication and IT industries. Moreover the correlation increases between the two as tourist destinations, where a vast amount of multicultural people are located at the same time and place, makes a good target for a terrorist strike (Küçükaltan, 2006).
The connections of tourism and media are the first impact that terrorism will have on the tourists, as according to Hall and Page (2000) media can significantly influence the way that people perceive the destination, especially in the event of a terrorism act. A good example of this is the case study of Cambodia where the media broadcasted news and footage after the bombings, creating an image of an unsafe location for the tourists (Hall and Page, 2000). Since the attacks on the tourists, the amount of visitors has dropped significantly. Through constant negative media attention, tourist destination records continually decrease in terms of the amount of arrivals. Moreover a decrease in international arrivals has been noticed post the terrorist attacks in Indonesia and Egypt. This mainly occurred as those terrorist acts had been targeted directly at the international tourists. Unlike the events in London and Madrid, where attacks were directed at major transport chains, with the primary goal being to damage the countries economy, rather then to scare tourists (Cooper et al, 2008). Poorer or as they are often related to 'undeveloped' countries, who do not have funds to invest in an image changing/Public Relations campaign. Resulting in dramatic falls of arrivals from international destinations after a terrorist attack. Destinations such as Egypt suffer from a decreased amount of tourists until today. It can be stated that the bombings were a short-term event, however they have a long term effect on the tourists, tourism industry and economy of the country as a whole.
However according to Cooper et al (2008) the United Kingdom and Spain noticed a significant increase in the amount of tourists visiting their capital cities, post the attack. Cooper et al (2008) states that these countries invested huge amounts of funds into a marketing campaign following those tragic events, within that campaign it has been stated that both Madrid and London are safe cities.

Another major impact that terrorism has on the tourists is that it has changed their perception of traveling and the risk related to it. The perception of traveling has changed over time, this occurred due to the magnitude and frequency of the terrorist acts, as previous terrorists attacks have been rare and were on a comparatively small scale. After those events the risk of terrorism is always associated with tourism and wherever tourists are there is always some sort of fear that the terrorists might strike that is why after the 9/11 the risk is always packed into the tourist bag alongside other items.

Also the media plays a vast role in manipulating people's perceptions of a given tourist destination, for instance post the 9/11 attacks in New York, media in the United States of America (USA), England and Australia broadcasted a vast amount of information on the terrorist incidents in other parts of the world, concentrating mainly on Indonesia-Bali, creating negative publicity for that location. This can change the actual picture of the country, making it unsafe, where Ryan (2002) brings toward Maslow's hierarchy of needs stating that security is one of the most important aspects that motivates people to choose a certain destination over others, and if the actual picture is distorted then that destination might suffer from a decreased amount of tourists.

It cannot be stated that terrorism brings positives to the world or to the tourists, however post a terrorist incident the prices decrease significantly. This not only means that holiday package prices will decrease, but also that the local traders will have to lower their prices in order to attract the tourist to their destination so that they can generate some sort of income.

Terrorism is a very complex phenomenon and it once a terrorist attack occurs it impacts the whole world, however since tourism became one of the most important sectors of the worlds economy terrorists tend to direct their attacks at the tourists and this has sever implications not only on the tourism industry but mainly on the tourists.


Cooper, C., Fletcher, J., Fyall, A., Gilbert, D. And Wanhill, S. (2008) Tourism principles and practice. 4th Ed., London: Prentice Hall.

Hall, C. And Page, S. (2000) Tourism in South and Southeast Asia: issues and cases. London: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Küçükaltan, D. (2006) Tourism and Terrorism: An Experience of Turkey and the World. iUniverse.

Reflection on Terrorism
Author: William Yick
The main reason why I am commenting on this post is because I have an interest in this area and it links particularly well with my posting outlining the impact terrorism has on Spain and Egypt, which my paper was focused on.

The summary outlines the fundamental link between terrorism and the media attention it generates, this is something which I have mentioned in my paper as the main reason international tourists are the target of these terror attacks is because the media attention it generates and in turn has an effect on the destination (Henderson, 2007).

Your paper outlines the clear extent of which terrorism can have a huge influence on how tourists perceive destinations. Also you motioned this is particular in the event of a terror attack, you pointed out an interesting case study of Cambodia, which saw a dramatic drop in tourist numbers and the economy was slow to recover. Interesting to note that this event attracted huge attention from the media and many countries were quick to warn visitors against travelling to Cambodia after the attacks (Toolis 2004). And many tour operators cancelled holidays to the destination. The mass media plays a huge part in the contribution of travel decisions made in relation to the perceptions of terrorism on tourist destinations (Hall, 2002).

You then went onto discuss how 'undeveloped' countries find it harder to recover from terror attacks, this is interesting to note as in my paper, I didn't pick up on this point, I thought it was mainly down to the amount of media attention Egypt received and whereas Spain managed to play down attacks. Having researched more into this point, it was found that Spain invested a huge amount in marketing the destination as a 'safe' destination after the attacks of ETA (Hall 2002), (Mack 2005). Marketing campaigns reiterated that Spain was still safe to visit and this was evident as visitor numbers increased after attacks. This was also the case after the London bombings, although this attracted huge media attention, campaigns however were quick to act after terror attacks and tourists quickly regained confidence (Gilbert 2004). I feel this gives tourists a major reassurance and this point you made was really insightful.

In conclusion terrorism has devastating impacts on both tourists and the destination and some destinations take longer to recover than others. However it is not all doom and gloom like you have pointed out, it is important to remember that there are some positive impacts of terrorism on both the community and on nations, bringing them together to support each other to fight terrorism (Kepel 2002). Tourists need to think beyond the risk of terror attacks happening. With careful planning, sustainable tourism may reduce the causes of terrorism.

Toolis, K. (2004) Rise of the Terrorist Professors, New Statesman 14, 26-27
Mack, A. (2005) Human Security Report, Vancouver: University of British Columbia
Henderson, C, J. (2007) Tourism Crises: causes, consequences and management, Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann
Kepel, G. (2002) Jihad: the trail of political Islam, Cambridge: Harvard University Press
Cooper, C. (2008) Tourism Principles and Practice, Harlow: Longman
Terrorism's effects on tourism
Author: Lucy Johnston

This paper was chosen because it is an area of interest. It is a very controversial area of tourism and many interesting points were raised.

The discussion paper stated that tourism and terrorism are linked because of terrorism impacts on the tourist. However, it could also be argued that tourism impacts the terrorist. Because terrorism often occurs in a high profile destination it is hard to decide which causes which. For example, New York is a popular destination for tourists pre and post the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Terrorism could have been attracted to that destination because of tourists being there, just as tourists are now attracted there because terrorism has occurred there.

There is a mention of the media's influence on tourist's perceptions of what has occurred. Frey 2004 says 'Dramatic terrorist actions receive huge media attention'. It is strongly agreed that the way in which the media present what has happened will affect tourism. If the media were to present a very negative image and show that danger is still occurring, tourists won't return. With 9/11 the media showed a lot of images and stories surrounding the fire fighters of New York and tried to put a positive spin onto things, and taking away some of the negative.

It is possible that the Medias influence can encourage tourists to visit some places. O'sullivan 1986, (cited in Frey 2004) states that if the media were not there to report on terrorism then people would not receive the messages of political and social influences caused. If it weren't for the media terrorist attacks wouldn't be so known of across the world. Many people travel to sites of terrorism to pay respects for those that lost their lives. Without being told of these events through the media, people may not know and wouldn't travel to such destinations.

It was noted that Egypt had suffered decreased visitor numbers due to terrorism. According to Essner (2003), the tourism industry of Egypt lost almost one billion dollars the year after the attacks. This was until present, the bombings here were only a short term event but leaving a long term effect on the tourist. It is possible that terrorism only affects the generation of people in which it takes place. People who were keen tourists at that time may have been discouraged by terrorism. However, when they grow older and stop travelling and new younger generations start to be the main travellers, Egypt and other countries may start to see more visitors again due to a lack of knowledge of what actually happened at that time.

The discussion really only touches on social effects of Terrorism, however as Pizam (1999) suggests there are also economic, political, religious and personal effects. Economical consequences can be huge. Frey 2004 noted that the terrorist attacks are often not aimed at the tourist but at the government and the economy. The effects that come from terrorism also have massive effects on the economy. People stop travelling to and spending in that country, which means massive losses. According to the travel and tourist analyst 2003, Egypt saw a 26% decline in tourist receipts post terrorist attacks in 1998.

Essner, J. (2003) Terrorism's Impact on Tourism: What the Industry May Learn from Egypt's Struggle with al-Gama'a al-Islamiya.

Frey, B, S. (2004) Dealing with terrorism: Stick or Carrot? Edward Elgar publishing.

Pizam, A. (1999) A comprehensive approach to classifying acts of crime and violence at tourism destinations and analysing their differential effects on tourism demand, Journal of Travel Research, Vol 38, pp5-12

Travel and Tourism Analyst (2003) Impact of Terrorism on Tourism, August, London: Mintel

Terrorism hits us from every direction
Author: Karri Kauppi
As you mention there's a strong link between tourism and terrorism. The events of terror in September 11th at the beginning of the decade has set up a "domino-effect" on terrorism attacks all around the world. It seems that nobody is safe anywhere anymore. The importance of well-made crisis management plan seems to be inevitable part of promoting a destination. You quite rightly point out how the increased financial importance of tourism has lured terrorists to act against destinations. I could also add that though tourists rather often find themselves in the middle of gore scenes of terrorist attacks, it's not necessarily because tourists are actually the targets, but more so "unnecessary soft targets". Naturally there are direct attacks against tourists. But it has to be noted that the contemporary tourism has spread effectively away from the traditional destinations to the "undiscovered" where the notion of danger could in some cases be part of the pleasure in traveling. Terrorists don't necessarily seek Westerners, but actually vice versa. This kind of behavior could be seen especially in the tourist travels to the Southern parts of Sulawesi in Indonesia, Mindanao in Philippines and in East Timor. All of the destinations are know for the attacks against Westerners, but still some "brave" young souls head there.

I agree with your notion of the increased media attention to terrorist activities, in some cases the media attention to some destinations seems to be rather unfair especially for the 3rd world countries that actually are dependant on tourism. Western media seems to be especially keen on exaggerating the notion of danger in destinations that are politically "difficult" towards western countries, for example Philippines.

I understand your point about the destinations such as Indonesia and Egypt being unable to lift up their image because of the limit funding. But I must add to it that research has shown that there is clear indication that destinations will suffer more if the attacks that happen are frequent rather than one severe attack such as in Madrid, London or New York. Bali itself has been a target of bombings twice in a short period of time, also Indonesia has gained a lot of bad publicity from the events in Timor, Sulawesi and Aceh, even though the events are far away from the tourist hot spots the media seems to represent that all events are rather linked together. To put the image in proportion Acech is as far away from popular tourist destination Lombok as Edinburgh is from Athens. Nobody seems to say that Edinburgh is dangerous because of the political unrest in Greece. Madrid and London as you mentioned revived in a rather short period of time after the attacks where as in Indonesia and Egypt the revival period was a way longer, but could this be also because Madrid and London actually are important financial centres where tourism is just a part of the "economic pie", where as Egypt and Indonesia tourism seems to be the "economic pie", it's hard to revive the economy that is so dependant on one sector.

You are right that terrorism has created new problems for the tourism and as usual the one's who suffer are the small one's (in economic terms). The decreased prices make destinations desperate to lure tourists and the all the positive effects to local communities are likely to be reduced. The winners in this situation are naturally the first world destinations that can offer the needed safety. Making the 3rd world destinations to even worse state and influence on new breed of possible suspects to terrorist organizations, desperate to lure new members with nothing to loose. It seems that we are in the middle of dilemma, if we don't spread our wealth by tourism in far away destinations we actually might be kept as part to blame for the new breed of terrorists and if we travel there we actually might put ourselves in danger. It is clear that something needs to be done, but who has got the right answers?

Hitchcock, M; I Nyoman Darma Putra, (2005) The Bali Bombings: Tourism Crisis Management and Conflict Avoidance, Current Issues In Tourism, 8:1

Smyth, R; Nielsen, I; Mishra, V, (2009) 'I've been to Bali too' (and I will be going back): are terrorist shocks to Bali's tourist arrivals permanent or transitory? Applied Economics, 41:11

Prideaux, P; Laws,E; Faulkner, B, (2003) Events in Indonesia: exploring the limits to formal tourism trends forecasting methods in complex crisis situations, Tourism Management, 24

Terrorism vs. tourist behaviour.
Author: Agnieszka Gwizdz
The main reason for choosing this summary to comment on, is the fact that the subject of the post, considering the relationship between terrorism and tourists, closely links to my posting of a similar topic. Although many similarities were noticed, there are also some differences, and this is the area which I would like to focus on and discuss.

In general, the summary discusses how terrorism influences tourists, with the main focus being on the aspect of media influence. It clearly, and from many perspectives, summarises the impact of media on tourist behaviour, which additionally is underpinned with numerous case studies. However the topic is much more complex and it could be analysed more extensively.

Undoubtedly, as stated in the first part of the summary, media significantly influences the way people perceive a destination, especially in the event of a terrorism act. It is strongly agreed that media influence is huge, as very often tourists travel to those destinations where there is only an image they have gleaned from the media. However, it has to be emphasised that if the image is negative - influenced by a terrorist attack, this in many cases destroys the desire to travel to that particular destination (Mansfeld and Pizam, 2006).

When talking about the media and the direct impact this can have on people's travel decisions, the 'word of mouth' should also be mentioned because it is a relevant aspect, closely related in terms of this subject. It also has to be emphasised that word of mouth influences, to large degree, tourist behaviour. For instance, if any friends or relatives have had a bad experience or have strong negative views on a destination, this will discourage and influence travel decisions (Page and Connell, 2009). To some degree media is also responsible for building such views.

Referring back to the frequency, of course, the increased frequency of terrorist attacks also affects the perception that travellers have about the risk associated with travel. As mentioned, some countries in the Middle East, such as Egypt, which have experienced sustained periods of political unrest, seem to travellers to be a higher than average risk destination, than other parts of Europe. Bali also experienced several acts of terrorism in a relatively short period of time (in 2002 and 2005) (Cooper et al., 2008). However, does this make Indonesia a risky place in the minds of potential tourists?

The discussion really only touches on external factors influencing tourist behaviour, such as media and frequency of terrorist events. However, in my opinion, when researching this subject it is also important to consider the characteristics of tourists, as these also play an important role in this topic. In other words, when discussing factors external to the tourist, such as media influence, it is worth mentioning factors internal to the tourist, such as personality and attitudes, which significantly impact tourist behaviour. Due to the fact that every tourist holds a different personality and attitude, the tourist perceives risk to different degrees (Pizam and Mansfeld, 1999). There are also additional influences, such as age or stage in the family lifecycle, which impact tourists' behaviour in terms of destination choice and the associated risk. These were not mentioned in the summary.


Cooper, C., Fletcher, J., Fyall, A., Gilbert, D. and Wanhill, S. (2008) Tourism: Principles and Practice, 4th ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Mansfeld, Y. and Pizam, A. (2006) Tourism, Security and Safety. Oxford: Elsevier Inc.

Page, S. J. and Connell, J. (2009) Tourism: A Modern Synthesis, 3rd ed. UK: Cengage Learning.