Terrorism and National Tragedies
Will anything stop us Brits going abroad?
The dawn of internet browsing and low-cost long haul flights has given us access to the rest of the world at affordable prices like never before.
But for some, it’s not all sun, sea and sangria!
Each year, there seems to be increasing reports of popular holiday destinations being ravaged by natural disasters and even terrorism.
Last year Mexico, named as one of the top 10 holiday destinations, was ravaged by two earthquakes just weeks apart, causing exponential infrastructural damage and the loss of over 360 lives.
Although the chances of a disaster striking while you’re on holiday may be relatively low, it is difficult to ignore the ever-present risk of something unpredictable happening.
If climate change is likely to be the cause of more frequent weather extremes , then finding a holiday destination immune to wildfires, flash flooding and severe storms, may not quite as easy as you might suppose.
Consider Europe. Generally regarded as a safe zone from earthquakes, hurricanes and active volcanoes, Europe too now appears to be battling extreme and dangerous weather more often.
In the summer, Greece suffered horrific wildfires which killed over 70 people and resulted in the complete destruction of a tourist resort.
And while holidaying in Majorca, a British couple lost their lives as torrential rain caused flash flooding which engulfed the town of Sant Lorenç.
But despite everything, the British appetite for holiday abroad seems set to increase. The percentage of people taking a foreign holiday this year increased to 60%, the highest level since 2011 according to ABTA’s Holiday Trends Report. Not all destinations are equal though.
Holidaymakers are being put off locations perceived to have a high terrorism risk. In a survey carried out by Silver Travel Advisor, 63% of respondents said that they would not take a holiday where there have been terrorist attacks. It would appear, however, that memories are relatively short and any adverse effect on visitor numbers are usually short lived.
ABTA’s Holiday Trends Report 2018 found that destinations like Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia were significantly up on bookings this summer, despite Tunisia having suffered a lone terrorist attack that killed 38 people, including 30 British tourists, at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel just three years ago.
Some of the countries that are most affected by natural disasters and which rely most heavily on tourism are also some of the most impoverished. Locals often live in poorly constructed houses, and rely on defence and warning systems that desperately need updating.
After a tsunami hit Sulawesi in September, Indonesia’s national disaster agency admitted that their 22 deep water buoys used to detect tsunamis have not been functional since 2012. Fingers are pointed at a lack of government coordination and funding.
Advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) states that: “The capacity of the Indonesian emergency and rescue services to deal with large natural disasters is limited.”
Despite the risks associated with travelling to places prone to natural disasters and terrorist attacks, the number of Britons travelling to Indonesia has almost doubled since 2010. According to the FCO 360,000 British nationals visited Indonesian islands last year.
And sectors connected to the travel industry, such as insurance, recognise that there is still a thirst for travel and are adapting their products to ensure that they offer a wide choice of covers to enable travellers to protect themselves against crisis’ and disasters.
For example, Insure4Retirement, a specialist Over 50s Home and Travel insurance provider, in partnership with Just Travel Cover, offer a Crisis Response Service with their Ready2Go Gold travel policy.
A key benefit of this cover is a dedicated phone number which gives travellers access to immediate assistance and an unrivalled set of skills if disaster strikes while they are abroad.
The service is provided by S-RM who has a team of crisis response consultants made up of former military, law enforcement and intelligence agency personnel, strategically positioned around the world to provide assistance during a crisis.
We live in a connected age where reports of disaster and terrorist attack are no longer the occasional news they once were; where one event captures the headlines only to be quickly replaced by more recent breaking news.
But tourism is a resilient industry. Many nations rely almost entirely on tourism to boost their economy, so they work tirelessly to restore impacted areas to their former glory.
There will always be a lull in visitor numbers following an event, but the travel industry knows that the desire to travel will always outweigh the risks.
But minimising those risks, and ensuring you have adequate planning and cover in place, can help provide peace of mind and assistance in a world full of surprises.