Is terror the new normal in travel?

New research from STR shows that European cities bounce back quickly after terror attacks, however Americans are avoiding Belgium, Russia and Turkey after recent attacks.

European hotel markets directly affected by incidents of terrorism generally stabilise within three months of an attack, according to new research from STR.

STR analysed four instances in which a major European market was attacked by terrorists, beginning with the 2004 train bombings in Madrid. Other markets included in the analysis were London, Paris, and Brussels.

Hoteliers do not attempt to recapture occupancy levels with lower rates following a terror attack, as tourists are likely to avoid the market regardless of price. Within three months of the November 2015 attacks in Paris business was normal.

But the research only refers to places that have one-off random attacks and only to Europe– so the bounce back factor may not be so easy for places outside of Europe and would not apply to countries where every few weeks or months there are attacks targeting tourists.

A separate study by Travel Leaders on American attitudes to outbound travel destinations agrees that Americans are now happy to go to France; the more recent attacks in Belgium are still making them cautious. The April survey was of 3400 Americans. It concludes that the new normal means potential risks of travel exist just about everywhere, including at home.

The study says that Americans have changed focus. One group individuals with upcoming Europe travel plans in 2016, shows France as the top country those travellers will visit – followed by Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. Most Americans will not let fear and threats overtake their desire to embrace the world and experience other cultures.

But for Americans not planning a trip to Europe in 2016, safety concerns still rank among the top five reasons.

All were asked which European country or countries they will avoid in 2016:

  • None 37.5%
  • None as we cannot allow fear to dictate our travels 26.6%
  • Turkey 21.0%
  • Belgium 14.4%
  • Russia 14.3%

Although this does not specifically ask about medical tourism, considering results of many studies in recent years, the patterns of where travellers and medical travellers will go or not go are remarkably similar.