A tourism downturn

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Grand Place

the Grand Place in Brussels – not so busy as it was a few weeks ago. But will the crowds return?

A week ago, events in Paris altered tourism forecasts for this year and probably next. Bookings at travel agents have declined, there are fewer tourists in Paris and the same applies to Brussels where a lockdown of the metro – amongst other things – has not helped. Will many people congregate at the Christmas market when it opens later this week?

Overnight, the US government issued a general warning against travel and urged people to be vigilant. Coming as it does in the week of thanksgiving when millions of Americans will board flights, take trains and drive to their families, you could say that the US government had no option other than announce it.

The effect of this will be to deter some people from travelling. Others such as the school teacher interviewed on Sky this morning says that the statistical significance of an attack is so small that he will not heed it. But people will.

So has IS won? They must include disruption amongst their aims and they have succeeded.

Governments are caught between a rock and a hard place. They have a duty to protect their citizens so surely they should notify us if there are any potential unsafe places in the world. But by doing so, they deter us from travelling there; from travelling to the very same countries which probably need our help to recover from the economic impacts – let alone the human ones – that terrorists wreak.

But what will be the longer term effect. Will Christmas travel slump as people stay away from Christmas markets and places where large numbers of people traditionally gather?

Will it deter Americans from coming to Europe next year or make us think twice about travelling to favourite holiday spots like Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan, Cyprus and Greece? Will staycations appeal more next year?

Only three weeks ago, I sat and listened as forecasters made predictions for tourism in 2016. Governments, tour operators, airlines, accommodation providers and attractions will be hoping that those predictions remain and that no significant downturn happens.

It all comes down to how confident and resilient the great travelling public feels.

 

 

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