Terrorism Threat to Tourism in the Asia-Pacific Region

Tourism is an important part that contributes to a great extent to the country’s economy. It has many hidden benefits that countries get. Tourism along with the tourists benefits the country as a whole. Those countries who promote tourism tend to focus more on infrastructure, sustainable development, climate protecting actions; moreover, they develop and promote diversity of different cultures and maintain equal human rights for all. According to UN Economic & Social Council, Tourism is one of the most important economic activities in the world today, because it directly generates services, products, foreign currency, employment and investments.

On the other hand, any security violating act can end up with a negative and unwanted impact on the country’s tourism. This is the era of globalization and it has affected tourism as well, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Along with the issues such as pollution (in China), swine flu, racial discrimination, there is one vital issue and that is security concerns for the tourists. Since terrorism is spreading throughout the world, so the Asia-Pacific countries are no different. The kidnappings of tourists, stabbing them to death, hotel bombings, or human trafficking, all are the new major concerns for the tourists to consider before visiting any place. Pizam & Smith (2000), have mentioned the past incidences including the explosion that killed three in Paris in 1986, the home-made pipe bomb in Tel Aviv in 1990, the November 1997 massacre of 58 tourists at Luxor’s Temple of Hatshepsut in Egypt, and the Kenyan and Tanzanian US Embassy truck bombings killing 263 in August 1998 in their research article. Recently, on July 17th, 2009, a very luxurious hotel in Jakarta (Indonesia) became a victim of a terrorist bomb attack; and that hotel was scheduled for the Manchester United team to stay in. Several people were killed and many were injured in that incident. The attack led the Manchester United team to instantly cancel their tour of Indonesia and leave the country. Now think of the negative impact that was made on the country. Their reputation for hosting the teams fell sharply, the team left instantly which resulted in the loss of all the investments made for the football tour, and finally, the perceptions of people might have been distorted regarding the security arrangements in Indonesia which may resist them to visit the country in future.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Asia-Pacific countries possess real natural beauty and amazing and breathtaking places; Moreover, these countries also contribute enough to world growth and are vital places for foreign investors to invest their money. The events, for instance, Cricket tournaments, are largely held in these countries as compared to other continents. People from around the world visit these countries and carry away the picture that they experience there. Recent Pakistan bombings have also stolen the right to host Cricket World Cup 2011 from the country. Mr. M. Sanjani, Amity University, Noida, pointed out that tourism is highly media-oriented and terrorists seek publicity. Tourism destinations provide good media access and can assure a terrorist of almost instant exposure; and once a favorable tourist destination image is lost, it will be very difficult to recover. According to the findings of Walter Enders and Todd Sandler, the authors of the article “Causality between transnational terrorism and tourism: The case of Spain”, the terrorist events have had a significant negative impact on the number of tourists visiting Spain. A typical incident is estimated as scaring away just over 140,000 tourists when all monthly impacts are combined. Moreover, the causality is unidirectional: terrorism affects tourism, but not the reverse. Unfortunately, the Asia-Pacific countries are being victimized more by terrorism as compared to other countries in the world; so the issue is damaging the countries’ reputation in terms of security concerns, increase uncertainty and vulnerability, and might further reduce the economic and social benefits that these countries get.

The management of this issue must be done through proper planning and implementation systematically. Tourism development must be given equal priority with the national development planning and policymaking. Countries must ensure that their security systems are not obsolete and are working in every intensive place whether they are airports, hotels, or any other tourism destinations. Sönmez, Apostolopoulos and Peter Tarlow (1999), in their journal of Travel Research recommend that in order to protect and rebuild their image of safety, and encourage foreigners to come and visit, countries must have a crisis management plan in place, they must establish a tourism crisis management task force, and develop a crisis management guidebook. There should be proper management by the tourism industry who looks after and ensures the security concerns for the tourists. Furthermore, the emphasis should be given to the role of government agencies involved in the tourism sector to add crisis and risk management analysis to ongoing destination analysis with a focus on existing or potential opportunities and threats; moreover, there should be a network national and regional crisis management centers, according to UN Economic & Social Council.

Since tourism is of great value to both the tourists and as well as the countries, so in order to keep going the tourism throughout the Asia-Pacific region, countries must solidify their laws, policies, procedures, security systems, and must ensure the vigilance of their law enforcement agencies and crisis management forces. By doing so, terrorist acts can be minimized which in result will improve the security concerns of the tourists and they would not hesitate to visit the country in the future.


General. Major Issues In Tourism Development In The Asian And Pacific Region. Economic And Social Commission For Asia And The Pacific. UN Economic And Social Council.

Pizam A., Smith G. (2000). Tourism and terrorism: a quantitative analysis of major terrorist acts and their impact on tourism destinations. Tourism Economics, Volume 6, Number 2, 1 June 2000 , pp. 123-138(16).

R. K. Bhandari (2009). Tourism and Terrorism: Issues and Challenges. Tourism Recreation Research. Vol. 34(1), 2009, 95-96.

Sevil F. Sönmez, Yiorgos Apostolopoulos, and Peter Tarlow (1999). Tourism in Crisis: Managing the Effects of Terrorism. Journal of Travel Research, Vol. 38, No. 1, 13-18

Walter Enders; Todd Sandler (1991). Causality between transnational terrorism and tourism: The case of Spain. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Volume 14, Issue 1 1991 , pages 49 – 58.

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