WTM 2017: Terrorism concerns among Brits on the rise, survey finds

Terrorism concerns are on the increase among British holidaymakers.

A third more travellers are now worried about an attack than they were a year ago, according to research released today.

The number of British holidaymakers now concerned to some degree about terror attacks has jumped 37%, while the number who admit to being extremely concerned has increased by 55%.

The World Travel Market 2017 Industry Report released today reveals 52% of UK holidaymakers who had a holiday this year are concerned about terrorism, with 14% of those saying they are extremely concerned.

Last year’s data revealed 38% had concerns over terror attacks, with 9% admitting to being ‘extremely concerned’.

The number of Britons who say they are ‘not concerned at all’ has dropped from four out of ten last year to 27% in 2017.

For the latest research, a further 21% said they were ‘not very concerned’.

However, terrorism remains the number-one concern for British holidaymakers, far higher than other travel worries, such as natural disasters and the refugee crisis, both of which are of concern for 38% of respondents, and political instability, a concern for 35% of travellers.

Terror attacks also continue to have the main impact on travel businesses, yet the number of industry executives who said it has impacted their business dropped by four percentage points over the last year,

Almost three quarters (72%) of top industry executives taking part in the WTM report said terrorism had impacted their businesses, with 26% reporting a ‘significant’ impact and 46% ‘some’ impact, while 28% reported no impact.

Last year, 76% of key industry executives said terrorism has impacted their business in the previous 12 months, with one in three reporting terrorism had a ‘significant’ impact and 43% saying it had ‘some’ impact. One-quarter (24%) said terrorism had had no impact at all.

The terror impact is higher on businesses than Brexit and other worldwide challenges.

More than half of respondents say Brexit has impacted their business, with 12% saying Brexit has had a significant effect.

The refugee crisis has impacted 34% of executives’ businesses, with 7% reporting a ‘significant’ impact; health scares such as the Zika virus have impacted 33% of businesses, with 7% significantly; 44% of executives say they have been impacted by travel company failures (6% significantly); 40% have been affected by industrial action (6% significantly), while 25% say their business has been affected by false sickness claims.

A WTM spokesman said: “When we looked at last year’s findings, it was reassuring that, despite several high-profile attacks, the fears of terrorism had not actually increased over 2015 figures.

“Worryingly, more high-profile and frequent attacks in the past 12 months seem to have dented holidaymakers’ confidence, with the result that one-third more holidaymakers than last year are worried about terrorism, with the number who are extremely concerned up 55% on last year.

“Tourism is hugely important to breaking down barriers and making the world a better place.

“Promoting safe and secure travel is now absolutely crucial and the challenge of encouraging tourism and keeping travellers safe is one of key issues that will be hotly debate during World Travel Market 2017.”

One in five British holidaymakers say they may visit Tunisia, now that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has relaxed its travel advice following the 2015 Sousse beach terror attack.

A poll of more than 1,000 Brits who have taken a holiday in 2017 asked: “The UK government has recently removed its advice against travelling to Tunisia. How likely are you to visit the country in the future?”

Almost one in 10 (9%) said ‘somewhat likely’; 7% said ‘quite likely’; and 4% said ‘extremely likely’ – giving a total of 20% who felt a trip to Tunisia was an option.

More than 45 million overseas holidays were taken by Brits in 2016, so that could mean nine million consumers are considering Tunisia as their summer holiday destination for 2018.

Before the ban in 2015, about 420,000 Britons travelled to Tunisia annually but that fell to just over 23,000 in 2016 due to the restrictions.

The Tunisian National Tourist Office in the UK estimates that numbers will reach 30,000 in 2017, and will more than double in 2018 to 65,000.

As soon as the FCO advice was lifted in July, British tour operators such as Thomas Cook started selling holidays to Tunisia again.

The confidence of UK holidaymakers is mirrored among those in the travel trade, who were also surveyed by WTM.

When asked about which destinations they were planning to have business conversations with, 10% said Tunisia.

Those buyers were then asked if they would sign contracts with Tunisian exhibitors, with 77% saying yes.

A majority (82%) of those polled in the trade survey said the tourism industry had a responsibility to support countries that face external pressures, such as Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt.

The WTM spokesman said: “The Tunisian government has been very supportive of the country’s tourism industry through its crisis.

“The UK government has worked closely with the Tunisian authorities and when the Foreign Office lifted its travel ban in the summer, it said the Tunisian government has improved protective security in major cities and tourist resorts.

“These efforts mean that UK holidaymakers are keen to return to a destination that has been very popular with Brits for many years.”

For the industry report, there were 1,622 respondents, drawn from the trade around the world.

For the consumer report, there were 1,025 respondents, who were representative of the UK population, and who had taken at least one holiday this year.

Travel Weekly coverage of World Travel Market

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