Safety and tourism are inextricably linked because tourism requires safety as a prerequisite. Especially in the phase of planning to visit a destination the assumption of safety is crucial. So threats to the image of the destination’s safety can instantly affect tourism flows, potentially costing millions. What is the role of money and how can destinations recover (in a tourism context) from terror attacks or natural disasters?
How much of the perception of security threat is real, or myth?
Imagine the example of the perception of threat between a coconut and a shark. On the face of it, more people will fear shark attack than coconut attack. However, figures reveal many more injuries to tourists, some of them fatal, caused by falling coconuts than by sharks. Regardless, some people will still go swimming, but others’ destination choice may be affected.
Gap in perceptions
Similarly in terms of tourism, the threat and incidence of terror attack seem larger and on the increase, but actually is not. In 2017, 34,000 people died in terror attacks (IPK, 2017), but this figure is dwarfed by those who were either murdered or died in traffic accidents. So whilst terrorism is seen as the biggest threat to life for the tourist, it is not in reality. How can this gap in perception and reality be filled?
Resilient strategies for overcoming decreasing tourism flows
There are many examples of destinations losing tourism flows but recovering with resilient strategies (Iceland being one). What are the key elements of these strategies? Well, disaster can be a springboard to success as long as the action is taken to rebuild the image, communicate with target groups and preserve existing channels to market.
This blog was written by tourism security expert Peter Singleton (NHL Stenden ETFI). Please contact us for more information.