CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 31, 2016 — Terrorism is taking its toll on global tourism this summer, thanks to increasing attacks in the West.
The dollar is stronger than it has been in years in Europe, but international summer travel to the continent is feeling the brunt of recent terror attacks in Germany, Belgium and, especially, France.
Even veteran travelers are wary, given events in Nice and Normandy, where barbaric murders occurred in what have come to be known as “soft targets.”
A French aristocrat who has had a long association with French and American historical societies and who can trace his family heritage to Alexis de Tocqueville, recently wrote,
“France is going into difficult times nowadays, and we are at war with ISIS. (emphasis added) People feel insecure and this is logical.”
Those words are no great revelation to anyone who has been paying attention, but they highlight the opinion of someone who is living through the horror in his home country.
Note that he believes France is at war with ISIS. He would argue vehemently with American colleagues and diplomats who disagree or refuse to acknowledge the existence of this Middle Eastern menace.
He alludes to economic effects, which are significant even though they may not be obvious:
“Among the economic consequences tourism is hurt, as it was after 9/11.”
The recent steady onslaught of attacks demonstrates that terrorists can, and will, strike at any time in any place. There seems to be no time to take a breath between one assault and the next. It is impossible to tell whether the killers are individuals or teams or groups.
One method the United States Marine Corps uses to train recruits is to have them run as a platoon while carrying their rifles. When a drill instructor decides to conclude the exercise, he may choose to have his men do a cadenced lap or two around the parade field or the barracks.
The psychological trick is that one day the troops may do two laps, then five laps the next and the following day do three or eight. In other words, there is no set number for the men to use as a guide so they never know when the run will actually finish.
Terrorists do the same. If we do not know how many attackers there will be, where they will come from or how they will attack, it becomes nearly impossible to determine a way to stop them.
Politicians do little or nothing to help because they spend most of their time in the aftermath protecting the larger group from which the Islamists originate.
News media have virtually no impact because they ask irrelevant questions, wonder whom to blame or focus on insignificant motives rather than reporting the truth about sources of the barbarism. Those who ask hard questions are labeled “islamophobes.”
Last week, ISIS issued a warning to the United Kingdom that they are the next major target for terror. With the Olympics due to begin in less than a week, that may be a diversion.
Fears of inadequate security are a key factor in the anxiety of the global community as the world gathers in Rio de Janeiro for its quadrennial competitions among nations.
How does terror effect the international economy through tourism? Consider all of the pieces of the hospitality industry: airlines, rail systems, taxis, limousines, hotels, resorts, cruise ships, restaurants, museums, retail stores, golf courses and their employees. The list is huge, but because it is so diversified, we rarely think of its parts as elements of a single industry.
With television cameras focused on every venue in Rio and environs, the impact of a terrorist incident will only be magnified in Europe and the U.S. Despite the numerous problems that have plagued Brazil, nothing would be more disastrous to the games than bringing worldwide negative attention through some horrific incident.
ISIS and its terrorist allies understand this. A successful attack in Rio would be the most effective way to create havoc without having to use military force. The threat alone has almost as much effect as an actual incident.
Tourism is a vital cog in the global economy. The question is, can it survive the cluelessness of Western leadership?
The world may view the hospitality industry as “fun and games,” but travel is one of the major economic players in the world today.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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