Qatar Airways ban the sign of things to come
Terrorism is the biggest threat facing the international tourism sector. This is according to Prof Melville Saayman of the research unit TREES (Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society) at the North-West University (NWU).
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar, citing the country's support of extremist groups as the reason. This includes banning Qatar Airways from using their airspace.
Travelers were confronted with travel complications such as longer and delayed flights in this region. In addition there is an increasing nationalistic shift in Europe, and a raging debate in the USA regarding the use of laptops and other electronic devices on commercial flights. Donald Trump's insistence on a travel ban complicates matters even further.
The world is scared and those who traverse the globe, are among those the most affected.
"It cannot be overstated how severely the numerous terrorism attacks across the globe have affected the tourism sector,” says Prof Saayman. “I suspect we will be seeing a paradigm shift in the tourism sector. We won't be going where we usually went, we won't use the same routes, we won't visit places that we used to adore. From music shows to restaurants have all become targets. To reiterate, there is no bigger threat to tourism than terrorism."
He went on to illustrate that it is not just the Middle East who is facing major consequences, but that Africa is in jeopardy as well.
"It is not just ISIS; it is their other affiliates and similar extremist groups such as Boko Haram that can result in countries such as Nigeria facing dire tourism consequences,” warns Prof Saayman. “Bans such as the one imposed on Qatar and Qatar Airways serve as a warning device; a deterrent to countries who do not do enough to curtail terrorism within their borders. The speediness with which this ban happened opens the door for similar actions."
It is, however, a sad state of affairs.
"A ban like this is punishing the greater tourism industry and more specifically countries depending on tourism. It's like sanctions where you punish those people who deserve it the least. In this regard we are playing into the terrorists hands."
Prof Melville Saayman.