Changes in Travel Behavior in times of terror

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

French policeThe threat of terrorism significantly influences holiday planning – major differences in the safety image of individual destinations – ITB Berlin and IPK International analyse global changes in travel behaviour – enthusiasm for travel is nevertheless unbroken

The terrorist attacks of recent months and political upheavals have had a major effect on travel behaviour, and the perceived level of threat is determining people’s holiday choices. Popular destinations, in particular Turkey and Egypt, have reported a dramatic drop in bookings and many hotels are deserted. Despite this, more people are travelling this year compared to 2015. Thus, IPK International forecasts a two per cent increase in trips abroad by Europeans, and as much as three per cent worldwide. However, people have become more critical regarding their choice of destination.

Early in 2016, IPK International conducted a special survey in over 40 major tourism source markets and interviewed 50,000 people to analyse the impact of terror threats. One of the findings of the global survey was that the threat of terrorism influences the travel behaviour of 40 per cent of international tourists, while the results varied significantly depending on the source market. Whereas few South Americans, Scandinavians and Dutch said that the threat of terrorism will affect their travel behaviour, Asians and Eastern Europeans are more strongly influenced by current events. Differences were also noted between various traveller segments. Those with children are more cautious, whereas younger age groups and singles remain relatively unimpressed by terror warnings. The survey also examined in what ways the threat of terrorism is changing travel behaviour. Thus, 15 per cent of international tourists said they will avoid travelling abroad altogether in 2016 and rather spend their holidays in their own country. One of the best examples is Germany, which again is is a favourite destination for Germans this summer. Timmendorfer Strand for instance, a popular Baltic Sea resort, is basically fully booked.

A quarter of international tourists said they plan to continue travelling abroad, but only to places they perceive as safe. Asked which destinations these were, IPK International gained some interesting insights. Destinations vary widely in their perceived safety levels. For the interviewees, the destinations rated the least safe were those where there have already been attacks or unrest in the past. In a worldwide comparison, Israel, Turkey and Egypt received the lowest ratings. A destination’s bad image even affects neighbouring regions, regardless of whether there had been any incidents there or not. What became clear was that 2016 will show some substantial shifts in demand. Some countries can expect massive losses, far and foremost Turkey, but also Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Other areas, such as Canada and Australia, as well Scandinavia and Switzerland have good growth prospects despite the global threat of terrorism.

New results due in November

It remains to be seen how the tourism industry will fare in the face of terrorism over the course of the year. As of yet it is unclear what impact the recent attacks in Germany and Nice will have on the perceived safety of these countries. The next special survey analysing ’The Threat of Terrorism for Tourism’ is scheduled for September/October this year. The initial results will be presented in early November 2016 in Pisa, Italy, at the World Travel Monitor® Forum, which is organised by IPK International in cooperation with ITB Berlin.

The World Travel Monitor® Forum is an exclusive industry gathering which discusses the latest travel industry trends and forecasts of tourism development. A summary of the Forum’s main findings will be published in the ITB World Travel Trends Report (for last year’s edition click here). Detailed information on individual source markets and destinations with regard to the threat of terrorism can be found in the report ‘The Impact of Current Terror Threats on International Travel Behaviour’, which can be ordered from IPK International.



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