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7Terrorism and International Tourism


(Student Name)


List of Figure

Fig 1: Terrorism related deaths since 2000

Fig 2: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and tourism

Fig 3: Global economic costs of terrorism from 2000 to 2014


International tourism is considered as one of the most promising industries in the world. This is primarily because it offers employment opportunities to millions of people across the world. The international tourism sector also supports many economies especially in the developing world. Globally, tourism is ranked as the second most important income generating activity after oil. The sector also plays an important role in global economic development through the provision of foreign direct investments and foreign exchange to the countries that tourists visit. Tourism not only involves travelling for leisure but also for business purposes. However, the international tourism sector is threatened by the increased incidences of terrorist attacks. This causes a threat to the global economy. The multifaceted relationship between tourism and terrorism is undeniable considering the increased growth in international tourism and the increased technological and communication development. It is important for governments to put policies in place to combat terrorism to ensure the success of international tourism.


Tourism refers to the movement of people from one place to another for purposes of leisure (Beaver, 2005, p. 323). Tourism can either be domestic or international. Domestic tourism involves people travelling for leisure within the same country. International tourism, however, refers to the act in which people travel to other countries that are different from their residential countries for periods not exceeding 12 months.

Worldwide, people travel from one country to another to conduct businesses or to have feelings of the environments absent in their countries. Examples of global tourist destinations are; London in the United Kingdom, Istanbul in Turkey, Paris, France, the Siem Reap in Cambodia, Rome in Italy and New York City in the United States.

A primary importance of tourism is the earning of foreign exchange. In many countries, foreign exchange forms an important part of revenue collection by governments and these can be used in improving the economies of such countries. Secondly, the tourism sector is a major employer in many countries.

An increase in the tourist numbers in any country results in increased employment opportunities for the locals, hence improved living standards. Additionally, tourism promotes the development of infrastructure. This is because of the provision of money used in improving infrastructure, which is profitable both to the locals and the tourists.

Globally, 3.5% of the population is involved in international tourism. In many countries, the industry is desirable because of the low levels of pollution associated with it and the large amounts of income it generates. In the developing world, several economies rely on international tourism as the main source of revenue. Globally tourism is ranked as the second largest industry after oil.

Terrorism refers to the illegal use of the force and violence against people and property with the main aim of coercing or frustrating governments, the local population or the military to achieve social or political objectives (Malisow and French, 2008, p. 7). Terrorist activities commonly entail the killing of masses of people and destruction of property. There are two main types of terrorism.

One, is domestic terrorism which involves terrorist activities planned and committed by people within a country. International terrorism, on the other hand, international terrorism involves the terrorist activities that are organized and committed by people linked with foreign countries. Terrorism dates back to the 1960s and1970s following the mushrooming of groups such as the Black Panthers in the United States as well as other radical groups that challenged authorities. This was mainly domestic terrorism as the groups tried to manipulate the local governments.

International terrorism began to grow in the 1970s with increased bombings in Israel. Since then, there have been several terrorist attacks in different parts of the world with growing use of technology and sophisticated weapons. Some examples of terrorist attacks include; the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City as well as the 1998 Islamic terrorist attack in Kenya and Tanzania. The main aim of this paper is to establish the relationship between tourism and terrorism.

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Figure 1: showing terrorism related deaths since 2000

Source: Global Terrorism Index Report, 2014, p. 15


Tourism and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In international tourism visitors often prefer visiting areas that have low rates of victimization and high safety rates. According to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety is one of the important factors that is proposed. Terrorist attacks on the tourists, therefore, deny them the feeling of safety and the tourists are likely to cancel flights to areas that are considered unsafe.

Individual work 1Individual work 2Individual work 3Individual work 4Fig 2: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Source: Woodside and Martin, 2008, p. 15

Relationship between terrorism and tourism

Although the international tourism industry is considered as one of the best performing industries in the world, it is not shielded from the terrorist activities. In many countries around the world, tourist activities have been affected by natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes which have caused a reduction in the flow of international tourists to those destinations.

However, the danger that follows incidents of terrorism commonly affect tourists severely, disrupting tourism activities until such incidents fade from the mind. Additionally, concern governments effect travel bans to terrorist prone areas to protect their citizens (Conrady et al, 2011, p. 41-160). In many instances, the issue of tourist safety is captivating and needs to be taken into consideration. According to literature, several studies have been conducted relating terrorism and tourism often resulting in topics such as war and crime.

However, the main issue is whether these studies reveal the importance of protection of international tourism from threats of terrorism. This is because international tourism and terrorism have various points of view such as the impacts of terrorism on tourist demand, the reasons why terrorists target the tourist industry as well as ways of reducing the risks of terrorism on the tourist industry.

One of the ways through which the relationship between terrorism and international tourism can be fully understood is through a comprehension of the motives for terrorist activities. According to literature, terrorist commonly target the tourist activities intentionally to gain publicity, to cause economic disruption to the targeted country as well as creating ideological opposition to tourism.

A good understanding of the motives of terrorist attacks, therefore, is important in establishing a link between terrorism and the international tourism sector. Besides, terrorism and tourism share common characteristics such as crossing national borders, involvement of citizens of different countries and employment of the use of travel and communication technologies, hence the relationship between the two.

Another way through which the terrorism-tourism relationship can be understood is by drawing a line between peaceful international tourism and diplomatic relations. According to this argument, tourists are commonly targeted because they are considered as emissaries of their countries. This can be demonstrated by the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro yatch by Palestine terrorists and the selection of the Jewish American on board to be killed.

In dictatorial regimes, terrorism against the citizens of such nations can go unstated. However, in cases where the citizens of other countries are involved, such incidents are given appropriate media coverage. Hence by targeting foreigners, terrorists get media attention while restricting the government ability to interfere with the news. By killing or kidnapping foreigners, terrorists gain exposure and reach the global scale (Kegley and Blanton, 2015, p .56-77).

Additionally, terrorists commonly revolve around the tourists to satisfy their resource needs. In areas where there are large numbers of foreigners, terrorists commonly find an opportunity to camouflage. This way, the terrorists can carry out large transactions in foreign currencies and go unnoticed. Terrorists may also target the tourists to punish the locals for supporting the government, and also strengthen political authority by making the government look weak.

There are also socio-economic and cultural issues that also explain the relationship between tourism and terrorism. The tourism industry can result in conflicts between the opponents and the proponents of tourism development. In this argument, terrorism is considered as a criminal activity that is targeted on the tourist destinations and the foreign business travelers by groups that oppose the authority exercised on the industry by the political bigwigs in that country.

Moreover, the conflicts between the locals and the tourists can result from cultural difference. Islam is one of the most reserved cultures in the world advocating for specific behavior. The western culture, however, differs from the Islamic culture righty from the modes of dressing to the kinds of food eaten. This can result in terrorism activities from the feeling of neocolonialism and threats to the societal norms and values.

The objectives of terrorists can be described as either revolutionary or sub-revolutionary. Specific objectives can be strategic and ideological. Terrorists commonly attack tourists to achieve strategic objectives. Attacking tourists for instance, can help the terrorists in ensuring publicity as well as disruption of the industry hence exercising legitimacy and proving the weakness of the government in charge.

Finally, by targeting the tourists, terrorists have such gains as exercise of authority over the ruling government. In cases where tourism promotes capitalism and is sponsored by the state, attack on the tourists correlates to attack on the government. In cases where tourism is a main foreign exchange earner, terrorism causes decreased revenue, daunting costs on the government and ultimately gaining political advantage (Glaser, 2015, p. 81).

Impacts of terrorism on tourism economic factors

Economically, terrorism has a wide range of impacts on the tourism industry in any given country. One way through which terrorism affects the tourism industry is through its effect on the foreign exchange. International tourism is important to countries because it earns foreign exchange. Terrorist attacks on tourists instills fear on the tourists, thus making them cancel their holiday visits or even change their destinations to safer places. As a result, the countries cannot collect foreign exchange as a form of revenue, thus leading to economic declines (Baker, 2014, p. 1-10)

In addition,terrorism contribute to the reduction of employment opportunities for the locals, hence poor living standards. The international tourism sector is considered as one of the important world economic sectors because it offers employment opportunities to many people across the globe. Incidents of terrorism, therefore, impact negatively on the tourism industry since it reduces the number of tourists visiting a particular country. The result is the loss of jobs and poor living standards.

An example of a terrorist attack that had great effects on the international trade wads the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on the 11th of September 2001, killing approximately 3000 people. The attack which was organized by the Al Qaeda group, affected the tourism industry globally with many of the tourists cancelling their flights for fear of being attacked by terrorists. This resulted in a global decline of the tourist industry with many hotels registering losses as well as many job losses. Globally, incidents of terrorism have been on the rise and can be traced back to the last fifteen years, and the rate is not expected to decline in the near future, considering the new and emerging trends.

Consequently,economic impact of terrorism on the economy of a country and the international tourism, in general, is its influence on the foreign direct investment (FDI). Foreign direct investment refers to the purchase of enough stock in another country by a company with the aim of attaining significant control. Apart from reducing the number of tourists into a country, terrorist activities can also result in FDI decline. To invest in a particular country, there is the need for the foreign investors to compare the investment returns and the associated risks both abroad and at home. Consequently, increased terrorist attacks in an area or a region will reduce the willingness of investors to establish businesses abroad thus reducing the inflow of FDI.

Additionally, when tourist attacks target the foreign direct investment, there are increased chances of risks. This is because such attacks are targeted directly on the establishment of a country. This way, the existing foreign investors are likely to close down their firms and travel back to their countries for fear of being attacked while potential investors may invest elsewhere (DePuma. 2015, p. 2-20).

Another impact of terrorism on the tourist economic factors is the opportunity cost incurred in preventing the occurrence of terrorist activities. Opportunity cost refers to the cost of an alternative that must be forgone to pursue a certain action.There are several developmental activities that governments can channel their revenues to such as the development of infrastructure, developing methods of poverty alienation among the people as well as engaging in developmental projects for the benefit of the people. However, with terrorism as a major economic crime in this century, these developmental projects cannot be attained.

This is mainly because such developmental projects have to be forgone and the resources such as time and money channeled towards the prevention of the occurrences of terrorist activities. The other economic costs incurred by the international tourism industry as a result of terrorism are the advertisement to attract tourists and restructuring of destroyed buildings.

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Figure 3: Global economic costs of terrorism from 2000 to 2014

Source: IEP calculations

Impact of terrorism on tourist socio-cultural factors

Aside from the economic impacts, terrorism has a range of socio-cultural effects on the international tourism industry. One of the social factors associated with terrorism is its impact on tourist decision making. Terrorism largely affects the decision by tourists whether or not to visit a particular place.

In the tourism industry, risk perception is associated with the safety of the tourists as well as the safety of their destinations. If an area is perceived by the tourists to be unsafe due to increased terrorist attacks, fear is instilled on the tourists and this determines their decision to visit such areas. In cases of tourist attacks, the potential tourists to a given area commonly cancel their flights or divert to other areas that they consider safe.

Tourist decision making is influenced by both internal and external factors. An important internal factor that affects tourism decision making is the experience from past travelling. Terrorist attacks can cause travel anxiety to a given destination, hence making the tourists to change their destinations or in worst cases cancel their flights.

Furthermore, terrorism has a profound effect on the behavior of the tourists. Although terrorism impacts on the decisions made by tourists, incidents such as business deals may cause international tourists to travel despite the coverage of the potential risks by the media. The travel experience by the tourists is likely to influence future travel behavior. For instance, terrorist attacks during travel or at the travel destination can result in anxiety, causing flight cancellations.

The risk of terrorism also cause tourists to modify their behavior such as dressing and consumption for fear of being targeted (Capper, 2010, p. 54). Terrorist activities result in the destination changes by the tourists. It is factual that international tourism is a rational business guided by comparisons between the costs and benefits.

In the event where terrorist activities are experienced in a given tourist destination, the risks associated with the event are high. This means that the tourists will have to spend more for the tourist experience which is not economical. As a result, the tourists will tend to visit other areas that are more secure and safe since the expenditure for the experience in these areas is slightly low.

Culturally, terrorism results in increased cultural conflicts especially between the western world and the Islamic states. Globally, there are increasing concerns about the terrorism activities conducted by Islamic groups such as Al Qaeda and other dangerous terrorist groups. In such attacks, Muslims are never killed or kidnapped. This has resulted in cultural conflicts between the Muslims and Christians.

It is important issue to understand is that the Islamic culture, is however not against Christianity but the two cultures have conflicting ideologies and beliefs. Hence, the presence of tourists from the western world in Islamic states is viewed as bringing in aspects of neocolonialism and changes in the traditions, values and societal norms.


With regards to the above discussion, it is evident that terrorism impacts adversely on the international tourism industry. However, the terrorism trends are not expected to decline in the near future. This is because of the increased sophistication of the crime caused by technological advances. There are also fears that the terrorists might possess nuclear weapons in the near future which might scale up their activities. To curb terrorism, it is important for individual governments to end issues of inequality and corruption and focus on nation building with equal opportunities for all.


Baker, D.M. (2014). The Effects of Terrorism on the Travel and Tourism Industry. International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage, p. 1-10.

Beaver, A. (2005). A dictionary of travel and tourism terminology. Wallingford, Oxon [u.a.], CABI, p. 323.

Capper, D. (2010). Terrorism, tourism, and consumer behavior: the effects of terrorism on the decision making process of tourists. Saarbrucken, LAP, p. 54.

Conrady, R., Buck, M., Viehl, P., & Tittel, K. (2011). Trends and issues in global tourism 2011. Heidelberg, Springer, p. 41-160.

DePuma, C. M. (2015). Terrorized Tourists: A Study on the Impact of Terrorism on Tourism. University of Southern Mississippi, p. 2-20.

Glaser, K. (2015). Terrorism and the economy: impacts on the capital market and the global tourism industry. The Hague, Eleven Intl Pub, p. 81.

Institute of Economics and Peace (2014). Global Terrorism Index: Measuring and Understanding the Impact of Terrorism. Sydney, Australia, p. 15.

Kegley, C. W., & Blanton, S. L. (2015). World politics: trend and transformation,
Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage learning p. 56-77.

Malisow, B., & French, J. L. (2008). Terrorism. New York, NY, Chelsea House, p. 7.

Woodside, A. G., & Martin, D. (2008). Tourism management: analysis, behaviour and strategy. Wallingford, UK, CABI Pub, p. 15.