Destinations can suffer overnightWe have to face the fact that in many countries of the world terrorism is not only disrupting tourism but is actually targeting the tourist industry. One serious incident can ruin tourism business overnight.
Naturally, MICE events are very sensitive to any prospect of danger. Organisers are not going to risk wasting investment in preparation for an event that may have to be cancelled. Companies, of course, are not going to choose a risky destination as a venue for hosting the cream of their workforce or clients. ‘Safety’ is now a box that has to be ticked whenever a destination is being considered.
In recent years, we have also seen the other side of the picture. We have seen territories come in from the cold. We have been fortunate enough to see disputes and suspicion resolved between blocs of countries and the resultant growth of tourist traffic has been amazing.
The easing of political differences saw the world welcoming huge additional numbers of Chinese and Russian travellers.
A new research report from PATA underlines this. The Pacific Asia Travel Association has revealed details of the link between Peace and Tourism. ‘Through international visitor arrival (IVA) data and short historical perspectives the study examines how peace, democracy and the ending of geopolitical and ethno-cultural conflicts between and within countries can facilitate phenomenal growth in travel and tourism’
The report is entitled ‘How Travel & Tourism Benefits From Peace – A Statistical Analysis of the Asian Experience’. It cites the example of 12 countries in both South Asia and Southeast Asia that have emerged from decades of colonialism and conflict. The study shows clearly that travel and tourism is booming in those countries which are at peace but lagging in those still grappling with either internal or external conflicts. ‘If peace prevails, tourism can flourish. Tourism helps economies to grow; it reduces the disparity between social classes; it alleviates poverty and, most importantly, it provides an opportunity for people to develop a better understanding of each other,’ says PATA CEO Mario Hardy.
‘With this report we want to show in simple numbers the positive benefits that travel and tourism can bring to a destination. We want to give a sense of hope to those who are still affected by conflict and show them the path to a better future. We can learn from our past and improve our future and we hope that this report will help readers to better understand the benefits that tourism can bring to our world.’ Mario voices the hope that the study will be used by leaders in both the public and the private sectors to make peace-building as much a part of the travel and tourism agenda as advancing its economic benefits and alleviating climate change.
However, terrorist organisations are also aware of the link between peace and tourism and they are intentionally damaging national economies by targeting tourism attractions.