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Since forever, tourism has represented an essential component of economic development and growth, and the tourism industry can be easily included among those who have shown, in time, a continually growing trend. There are countries where tourism represents a primary industry, and from a global point of view, tourist numbers are permanently growing.
As for each industry or economic sector, threats can also be identified for tourism too. Most of these threats have social or socio-economic origins, and they lead, in most of the cases, to crime rate increase but, above all sorts of threats, the tourism branch faces, terrorism is the one that has the most significant effects, lasting the longest, in comparison with other risks (Weber, 760-763).
Today, tourists’ safety is a growing concern, and being safe on vacation has become an expected requirement, no matter the location. It has been observed lately since terrorism’s threat has become more stringent, that destinations with the fearsome reputation are easily substituted with other similar/close destinations, perceived by tourists and the public as being safer.
Even if tourism has been since forever a successful economic branch, this fact did not act as a shield in front of terrorism’s destructive power. There are also numerous natural disasters, for example, that can significantly influence tourists’ numbers in specific locations, but nothing keeps tourists away from the way terrorism does. The danger associated with terrorism has immense potential for intimidating tourists. Since this is not new information, as terrorism, as a phenomenon and a form of political expression, can be identified even back in Roman Empire’s glory times, when Zealots organized a terrorist campaign against the Romans, to drive them out of Palestine.
Three main directions have been seriously approached in the tourism and terrorism literature lately: the reasons for terrorist attacks on tourist destinations, the impact terrorism has on the demand in tourism, and which are the possible solutions for risk minimization and threat elimination. The very volatile relationship that exists between terrorism and tourism is also magnified by the media and the online environment. Especially, as terrorist attacks are broadcasted, and the information spreads faster than ever. In these circumstances, travel risk should be in-depth studied both regarding real and perceived threats (Reisinger and Mavondo 212-245).
Understanding terrorist behavior comes very handily in untangling this tourism-terrorism relationship. Research shows that terrorist attackers deliberately choose touristic destinations, and this allows them to reach their primary goal, spreading fear. Politic and economic instability, destination image destruction, population isolation are other goals, and, at the same time, significant effects terrorism has on tourism. Since 9/11, several strategies have been developed, both at a global level and at national levels, to create a healthy defense in front of terrorism’s threat (Baker, 64).
The impact terrorism has on the tourism and travel industry has essential dimensions, and it can lead to many socio-economic issues, such as homelessness, unemployment, and deflation. Since tourism contribution is significant for many countries, terrorism’s influence is a significant cause of concern, both at global and national levels. Not only traveling and tourism are affected by terrorism, but also adjacent industries and economic activities, such as hotels, airlines, restaurants, and retail industry. Terrorism is a challenging, continuous evolving concept, and its relationship with tourism is very complicated. Many factors are contributing to tourism growth, and at the same time, multiple factors influence terrorism’s development too. All in all, as long as tourism is a growing industry, so is terrorism threat.