The Effects of Terrorism and Crime on International Tourism


The international tourism industry which brings in roughly $91.1 billion dollars in the U.S. alone is one of the largest economic factors in a given country. After much research it is easy to see that terrorism and crime can be one of, if not the biggest factors in shaping the tourism patterns as well as the needs and wants of tourists. Crime and terrorism affects everything from the travel industry to the media as well as the economy of the country. Despite the fact you can not control when and where the attack or crime will take place, having a solid structure and plan for crises management can help getting the attacked location back on track sooner. Because tourism is such a large part of a countries economy it is crucial to get the industry up and running as soon as possible.


      The impact that tourism has on an economy for a given area is undeniable. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), international tourism generated $476 billion in 2000, a figure that accounts for roughly one-tenth of global total tourism revenue, suggesting that, with domestic revenue, current total tourism revenue could be as high as five trillion dollars (Lutz 2006). Because it is such a large part of a given country’s economy it is easy to see why even the slightest event that can deter tourism should try to be stopped at all costs. One major player that influences the tourism patterns is the impact of crime and terrorism globally. Crime and terrorism can have many negative effects such as economical like previously mentioned as well as others like a decline in air line travel and the tarnishing of a certain destination. Despite most of the time having a negative effect there are a few positives that can come out of crime and terrorist attacks. When acts of crime and terrorism do happen they seem to affect the tourism industry in all aspects.

      Terrorist attacks have some of the most detrimental economic consequences on tourism. For instance the terrorist attacks of “9/11 left NYC in hard times economically because people saw the area as unstable as well as because the terrorist chose to hit a target which represented the economy” (Cousins 2002). Further, a major outbreak of terrorism can hinder economic activity in a country in other ways. Foreign investors may withdraw, visitors stop coming, and trade can be disrupted. Terrorism is ultimately a form of psychological warfare, and as such it is designed to change the behavior of target audiences.

      Random acts of terrorism limit travel activity until the public’s memories of the publicized incidents fade. Constant terrorism, however, can tarnish a destination’s image of safety and attractiveness and jeopardize its entire tourism industry (Abraham 1996). If a potential tourist can not shake the thoughts of what happened and can not get over the fear of what happens or a certain terrorist act or crime that was convicted the industry takes a large hit. The longer it takes the worse the hit in the pocket for the industry.

      Crime and terrorism has a serious effect on the travel side of tourism as well. For example in 2006 when a airline bombing plot was stopped in Britain their were immediate tourism travel implications like,  Flights to London from Paris, Frankfurt, and other European cities were curtailed or canceled, while seats on the Eurostar train quickly sold out. Stranded passengers were forced to give up, go home, and cancel their vacation plans (Reinhardt 2006). Getting everything back on track took weeks, not to mention the financial burden put on the airlines to hire more security as well as the business they lost during one of their busiest travel times. This attack also created a short term fear of flying which was not very beneficial for the $355 Billion European travel and tourism market (2006).

      Terrorism and crimes effect on the media also plays a large role in the effect it has on the industry as a whole. For example in the country of Kenya tourism numbers took a drastic dive in 2003 after several western countries urged there citizens through the media that it was not safe to travel there all because of just the risk and potential of crime and terrorism (Lovgren 2003). Because of the media Kenya’s $500 million tourism industry lost roughly $1 million a day, which for a country of this size was not a very easy thing to overcome (2003). It effected all phases of tourism from travel to small business owners all the way to the once growing eco-tourism sector.

      Despite the great hardships crime and tourism can put on the travel and tourism industry, if looked at deeply enough there is some good that can come out of certain tragic events. For example the creation of new jobs, though costly, decrease a countries unemployment rate. After 9/11 many workers were hired for clean up as well as extra security. You also get certain travelers that want to see a ravaged area to lend a helping hand in repairing a certain destination or help the people. This was true in Northern Ireland. After many years of constant crime and terrorism, their was an 18 -month cease-fire, it had opened up a window of opportunity for tourism enterprise and had shown conclusively what was possible for a peace dividend. In 1995 visitor numbers were up by 20%, with pure holiday visitors up by 68%; visitor nights were up by 9%; visitor spending was up by 17%; and visitor inquiries were up by 59% at 1994 levels (Anson 1999).

      Another tricky aspect of the impact of terrorism and crime on international terrorism is that the impact is often delayed (Brunt 2002). Due to the fact that things like planes and trains and cruises are often booked in advance and purchased with out insurance, the immediate effects are not felt because the profit of those purchases are still received. Because the effects are delayed it is very important that in order to deal with crime and terrorism there is some sort of crises management set up.

      While tourists are free to avoid destinations associated with risk, the consequences of disastrous events on tourist destinations are inescapable and can be profound. Terrorism that targets tourism can be viewed as a disaster for a destination and ensuing events can create a serious tourism crisis. It is very vital that an unfortunate event such as terrorism is thought of as a crisis simply for the fact that the energy and resources can be put into place to handle the situation. Once the correct mind set is in place it is easier to regain old form and get things running as usual. An example of what could potentially work is having a detailed plan.

      A crises management plan typically consists of many different things. One of which is just simply being prepared for a crises. Sevil Sonmez an assistant professor of tourism management at Arizona state university states “every tourist destination should incorporate crisis management planning into its overall tourism planning, marketing, and management strategies. Those destinations vulnerable to politically motivated violence in particular need a plan of action to follow. The purpose of such guidelines is to facilitate tourism recovery from negative occurrences by protecting or rebuilding a local area’s image of safety and attractiveness, reassuring potential visitors of the safety of the area, reestablishing the destination’s functionality and attractiveness, and aiding local travel and tourism industry members during their economic recovery. A tourism crisis management plan cannot supersede local emergency preparedness plans, nor can it prevent or solve a disastrous occurrence, but it can serve as a guide for managing its aftermath” (1999).  Next you should have a crises management task force which will aid in the swift reconstruction or rebuilding of the damaged site. Also a crises management guidebook should be pre written and readily available should an event occur. Lastly, there should be a plan for cooperation with the proper authorities (Sonmez 1999).

      Due to the fact that the travel and tourism industry has so much economical pull in a country it is very important to protect it and do all you can to ensure the protection of the valuable tourist. Terrorism and crime have the potential to hinder this industry more then anything else. In can affect everything from the plane industry, to mom and pop shops, to large luxury hotels. It seems now that effect is even greater due to things like mass media and technology. In order to cope with these devastating situations that do a rise it is very important that all places have crises management procedures in place to ensure the quickest rebound so the economy of the given country can rebound as quickly as possible.  



Abraham Pizam and Yoel Mansfield (1996). Tourism, Crime and International Security.    NewYork: John Wiley & Sons, p. 175.

Anson, C. (1999, August). Planning for Peace: The Role of Tourism in the Aftermath        of Violence. Journal of Travel Research,38(1), 57. Retrieved October 16, 2008,       from Academic Search Premier database.

Brunt, Paul & Cousins, Karen (2002). The Extent of the Impact of Terrorism on     International Travel and Tourism at Specific Tourist Destinations. Crime          Prevention       and Community Safety4, 7-21

Cousins, Karen (2002). Terrorism, Tourism and the Media. Security Journal15, 19-32

Lovgren, Stefan (2003, June, 17). Terrorism Taking Toll on Kenya’s Tourist           Economy. National Geographic News, Retrieved October 10, 2008, from  

Lutz, J., & Lutz, B. (2006, Fall2006). International Terrorism in Latin America: Effects on            Foreign Investment and Tourism.Journal of Social, Political & Economic     Studies31(3),321-338. Retrieved October 16, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Reinhardt, A., & Scott, M. (2006, August 11). Tourism: How Bad a Hit?. Business Week  Online, Retrieved October 16, 2008, from Academic Search Premier Database.

Sevil F Sonmez; Yiorgos Apostolopoulos; Peter Tarlow (1999).”Tourism in crisis:Managing the     effects of terrorism.” Journal of Travel Research; Boulder; Aug 1999; Copyright        University of Colorado, Business Research Division Aug. 1999


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