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Terror attacks set to impact travel sector

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A recent wave in high-profile incidents of terrorism is likely to have detrimental effects on the tourism sector, with cancellations to popular tourist destinations across Europe already on the rise, according to a local tourism researcher. A series of coordinated attacks in Paris, suicide bombings in Beirut and other parts of the Middle East, a recent hostage situation at a hotel in Mali, and the shooting down of a Russian airliner over Egypt are but some of the incidents that have left frequent flyers second guessing their future travels.

Professor Melville Saayman, director of the Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES) unit at the North-West University, said it was hard to assure traveller safety in countries where governments had taken a stronger stance against radical militant groups like ISIS.

“The focus (of attacks) has shifted to the general public, meaning that tourists and visitors are not really safe wherever they go. This must be very difficult to manage,” he stated.

Referencing 9/11 as a case study, Saayman highlighted an enormous drop in travel to the U.S. during the period post-attacks, even domestically. Similar statistics could be noted in other regions where such terrorist attacks occurred.

“It does have a huge impact. If you take Belgium and France at this stage, Belgium closed shopping centres and limited movement, and that has a huge impact. Sports events in places like The Netherlands have been cancelled, and these a big generators of income and travel,” he noted, highlighting the scale of the effects such attacks were having on the industry.

On the opposite side of the coin, more neutral countries like South Africa often benefited from an increase in tourism during periods of unrest in the west.

Saayman also suspected the level of security checks would amplify in coming weeks.

“It becomes absurd to be honest. If I was a terrorist I would not go through those channels to take anything on board, normally these things happen behind the scenes,” he added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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