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.