Latest figures suggest that the recent terrorist attacks by the Islamic State have had a significant effect on tourism in parts of Northern Africa. These countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco rely on tourism heavily and millions rely on these visitors to support themselves and their families.
The figures make depressing reading, despite an overall upwards trend in International tourism, visitors to North Africa have fallen by nearly 5%. However certain countries have been affected disproportionately such as Tunisia and Egypt due to the direct attacks on those countries. Beach resorts such as Sharm el-Sheikh have previously been regarded as a secure and safe place for a foreign holiday, However when the passenger jet was loaded with a bomb at the resorts airport then that perception changed overnight. Tunisia has also been affected by the Sousse arrack where 38 people were killed by a Islamist gunman.
The attack on Tunisia was particularly devastating as there was a previous attack at the Bardo museum were 22 people were killed. The whole area has been subject to the political instability following the Arab spring and there have been many initiatives to bring tourism back to the area.
The problem is that attacking tourism is an effective tactic for terrorists who want to destabilise these areas. The fear of repeat attacks is enough to have a dramatic effect on tourism anywhere in the world but especially in those places with a less established police and security infrastructure.
Many travel firms and tourists will simply use the advice from the Foreign office, particularly those from the UK. Even travellers from other countries will follow the UK guidelines as many use the British media like the BBC using an England based proxy to access them. For example currently the information on Tunisia suggests that ‘further terrorist attacks are possible’ – hardly the sort of backdrop people want for a relaxing holiday. Although guidance suggests that you should be safe people are not likely to be persuaded by the need to be ‘especially vigilant’.
The problem is that individual attacks are usually quickly forgotten by travellers after all they could happen anywhere, but when there are multiple attacks in a short period of time such as in Tunisia the effect is much more entrenched in people’s perceptions.
There will always be holiday destinations which are affected by political, economic and social unrest so it’s best to keep informed and do your research before travelling.