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Terrorism - influence on travel decision?!

Terrorism - influence on travel decision?!
Author: Dana Kinzel
2 Commentries
Travelling gained at popularity in the past but different incidents like terrorism, crime or political instability lead to decreases in the travel figures (Gray and Wilson 2009: 187). The following work shall focus on the influence of terrorism on the tourist's decision making. The aim will be to present: General theory about the decision making process, results out of different surveys and a short analysis of the attitude of online chat room users towards the risk aspect in their travel decision.

Natural disasters, potential illness, crime, terrorism are incidents which influence the consumer's decision process of travelling. The tourist weighs in its decision process benefits like the experience and relaxation against the costs. These can be the price but also includes the risk. Especially latter is often weighted stronger (Gray and Wilson 2009: 187-202). The consumer can decide to cancel, reschedule, choose another destination or realize the planned journey despite the situation. Latter can be divided in two cases. In the first one the consumer does not see his risk as high, in the other one he is even attracted by the risk or experience (Valencia and Crouch 2008: 25-26).

The tourist gets influenced in his decision process whether to travel to a destination or not by aspects like: The victim's origin, the place of the event, the extent, the number of occurrences, the kind of disturbance and the media coverage (Smith and Carmichael 2006: 61-76). Recommendations of friends and relatives, the own experience (Swarbrooke and Horner 1999: 51-65), the age and educational background can lead to different decisions (Chen and Noriega 2003: 81-96).

Security and safety generally play an important role in the consumer's decision process but according to Tarry the price still has to be proportional (2003: 9). Zoltak conducted a survey in which 2,300 visitors of the Orange County participated. On a scale of 1 to 10 the importance of safety and security in the holiday decision process was given an 8.9 in average. International visitors even gave a 9.6 (2004: 7). Even so the proportion of being involved in a terrorist attack is low, Gray and Wilson found out that 69.9% of their participants said that they would deter from travelling to a place at which a terrorist attack occurred. It is necessary to mention that some tourists are more sensitive to risk than others which accept risk in some parts of their life and are therefore also willing to accept a higher risk when travelling. In an analysis it became obvious that students and public groups saw a higher risk looking at travel hazards than divers. Latter group showed that "people who accept risks in one area of their lives may do so in other areas". A similarity can be seen between diving and being affected in a hazard; people can become injured or killed in both cases (Gray and Wilson 2009: 187-202).

Yechiams stated in his analysis that the frequency of terrorist attacks lead to a stronger decrease than the severity of attacks. Especially the international market became affected stronger through repeated attacks than the domestic (2005: 430-439). For example 9/11 caused an immediate change on the travel figures of the Canadian market (Smith and Carmichael 2006: 61-63).

The author decided to look at two different chat rooms in order to find out the perception of the users towards terrorism in their travel decision. One user, one female and one male, in both chat rooms were insecure or afraid of terrorism in their holiday destination. One of them cancelled the planned trip the other had postponed the travel plans over several years. The other chat room users take the view that risks can be found everywhere; therefore they are not discouraged from travelling (Community n.d. and Reisen.de 2008/09). It might be the case that online chat room users do not see the terrorism risk when travelling as high as non chat room users in general. This might be explained by age, that the media does not influence them as much as non chat room users, that their relation to the destination country is stronger or that they perceive risk different in their normal life which might be seen in their extensive usage of the internet and chat rooms which do not constitute a high risk like terrorism but the danger of data transfer or to be spied on can occur.

Altogether it can be said that the probability of being affected in a terrorist attack is low but nevertheless consumer's decision making often gets affected by such incidents. The analysis showed that some people respond stronger to terrorist attacks than others. This can derive for example from their general attitude towards risk. Several aspects influence the consumer's travel decision. The frequency for example has a higher impact than the severity of attacks. In connection with the chat room analysis it would be interesting to look at other communities in order to compare more user statements.


Gray, J. M. and Wilson, M. A. (2009) The Relative Risk Perception of Travel Hazards, in: Environment and Behaviour. London: Sage Publications, 41, 185-202.

Valencia, J. and Crouch, G. (2008) Travel behaviour in troubled times: the role of consumer self-confidence, in: Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing. London: Routledge, 25-39.

Smith, W. W. and Carmichael, B. A. (2006) Canadian Seasonality and Domestic Travel Patterns: Regularities and Dislocations as a Result of the Events of 9/11, in: Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing. 19: 2, 61-76.

Terrorism - influence on travel decision?!
Author: Charlotte Turton
Dana, you have put forward some interesting points in your paper and have outlined many issues that could affect a tourist to travel in terms of terrorism. Your paper is in some way relative to mine where you have outlined that it can depend on how people perceive risk as well as the role the media plays when people consider travelling.

The paper has drawn upon existing research well to support the argument. The study by Zoltak where 2,300 participants conducted a survey on the importance of safety and security on a holiday was relevant to your question. It was interesting to see that nearly 70% of travellers would amend their plans to a place where a terrorist attack had occurred. This is usually the case as people's perception of safety and security is a major determinant decision to visit a place, with the risk perception being higher than actual facts or risk. (Rittichainuwat, 2009, page: 411) To elaborate further, your discussion could have looked into an actual case study which resulted with people cancelling their plans after an attack had happened at the destination. A major attack that could have been used could have been 9/11 where many people were scared to fly let alone visit New York. (Itoa, 2005, page: 75)

The part of research in your discussion that interested me the most was the part where you mentioned how people who accept risks in one area of their lives may do so in another and that divers showed less risk than public groups. This part showed how risk affects us individually and that factors including age, occupation gender could affect us to a greater extent.

In terms of the chat room example, a good point was shown. People who did not use the web as much as other users said that risks can be everywhere so they are not dis- encouraged from travelling but the chat room users had actually deterred their plans. The paper mentioned that this could be due to the media's influence upon the web users, which relates to more research claiming that the media has a high credibility and the ability to reach large audiences in a short space of time. (Rittichainuwat, 2009, page: 411 To enhance the paper more research could have been looked into as there were only two chat room users that had deterred their plans but it did give an indication of the effect the media has.

Overall, the discussion paper showed a good understanding into how terrorism can affect the decision making process and drew upon previous studies to support this. The discussion outlined that although the actual risk of being involved in such an attack is low, the perceived risk is high forcing the consumer to be affected by such incidents. The only suggestion could be to have not just looked into previous studies but also into case studies that have happened including 9/11 to see if tourists did postpone their travel plans after this attack had happened or to have gathered a small piece of primary research. This is a great piece of work Dana that shows a lot of effort and illustrates points.


Rittichainuwat, B & Chakraborty, G, (2009), Perceived travel risks regarding terrorism and disease: The case of Thailand, Tourism Management, 30, pp. 410-418

Itoa, H & Lee, D, (2005), Assessing the impact of the September 11 terrorist
attacks on U.S. airline demand, Journal of Economics and Business, 57, pp. 75-95
Terrorism - influence on travel decision?!
Author: Gulden Gozuacik
The main reason why I am commenting on this discussion paper is because this is similar to my discussion paper and I have an interest in this area.

You have mentioned that there are many incidents that influence the decisions of the consumer in tourism and used terrorism as an example.
U.S, study actually found about seven factors of travel risks on tourism "these were in the domains of health, political instability, terrorism, strange food, cultural barriers, political and religious dogma, and crime (Gray, Wilson,2009)."

You have nicely demonstrated and used an example on how the consumer had changed their decisions, you have also mentioned that chat rooms as an example of consumer's behaviour on terrorism and the outcomes of their travel decisions.

Many of the travellers decision is usually based on perception of the risks instead of the actual risk facts and this can have negative influence for the traveller's behaviour towards the destination and this is why tourists may avoid travelling, if perceived as risky destination. (Rittichainuwat, Chakraborty 2009). For example the 9/11 terrorist attacks in U.S had changed traveller behaviour for most, such as Spanish people changed the transportation when travelling to a destination (Gray, Wilson, 2009).

Gray, Wilson, 2009 is the same author that we both used but I have approached it more on the theory than the results of the interviews as I believe it is rather similar outcomes of what the literature had mentioned and the result of the interviews.

You have also wrote about (Valencia and Crouch 2008), on how the consumer cancel's and chooses another destination and some attracted by the risks or experiences, this is true but even though safety and security is important for the traveller when choosing a destination to visit, it is still not an major issue for some travellers that has already visited the destination before, so the travellers revisit the place even if it's perceived risks and elements of risks(Rittichainuwat, Chakraborty 2009). This could mean that if the traveller had already some kind of emotional connection and experience of a particular destination so the perception of risks decreases and their attitude towards the destination do not change so this helps improve the attitude on international tourism (Rittichainuwat, Chakraborty 2009

Your findings that in the chat rooms that media isn't a big issue on their decisions to travel but my findings is that if a place is on the media such as news reports which affect the travellers decision as it is a perceived risks that the consumer may cancel flights bookings, change their minds as the consumer feels the risk are high and not safe enough so changes the attitude towards the place (Rittichainuwat, Chakraborty 2009).

It is obvious that if a destination that might be targeted for an attack, tourist would avoid visiting especially if there is news about terrorist attacks mentioned a lot or repeatedly in the media (such as internet television) that can fear the future travellers in to changing their minds to visit (Rittichainuwat, Chakraborty 2009) for example places like Egypt in 1992 had experienced terrorism attacks which led to 43% decrease on tourist receipts even though places that is not experienced any terrorism still had decreased on number tourist because of perception of risk had made travelling seem risky(Coshall, 2003).

Overall terrorism and tourism is fascinating study area as it effects traveller's decisions and tourism, but terrorism is unpredictable like any other incidents therefore it is hard to control but maybe with careful planning and making the places safer actually can change the negative attitudes towards the destination this might help tourist in to thinking its safe to travel.

Coshall J T. (2003)The Threat of Terrorism as an Intervention on International Travel Flows Journal of Travel Research; 42; 4 Published by sage

Gray J M. and Wilson M. A. (2009) The Relative Risk Perception of Travel Hazards Environment and Behavior; 41; 185 Published by sage

Rittichainuwat B N and G Chakraborty (2009) Perceived travel risks regarding terrorism and disease: the case of Thailand. Tourism Management 30, 410-18