Terrorism vs Tourism | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Terrorism vs Tourism

Travel writers Hope and Beth debate travelling abroad to Africa and the Middle East.

The allure of travelling abroad to exotic lands has never been more compelling for students on holidays or gap years. However, in light of recent air disasters and the growing threat of terrorism, is it still safe to travel to these countries, or should we not let terrorism stop us? Tour operators and travel firms promise cheap last-minute holidays and flights to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia; but is this morally right to keep sending naïve tourists to dangerous countries?


Hope Brotherton argues for tourism

Solidarity.  How can one word carry so much: hope, fear and unity all in a single beat? I don’t know, but it does. In English there is a saying, ‘keep calm and carry on,’ whilst this is over used and adorned across far too many tea towels for my liking, it fits into the worlds events of recent weeks perfectly. But, if I may, I want to tweak it ever so slightly, ‘keep calm and carry on travelling.’ The advice of many governments is to carry on as normal, so if travel is part of your normal regime then do it!

Recently, a multitude of tourist hotspots such as Paris, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey have been crossed off maps and deemed far too unsafe, by many holiday makers. However, I believe to show solidarity travel plans should still go ahead, but caution needs to be exercised none the less. The European Union has raised the security of all major European cities, does this mean no travel into mainland Europe? Do the events of Malaysian airlines last year mean no international travel? Do hurricanes across America mean no travel there also? Do Bushfires in Australia limit travel to the outback? I realise I am extrapolating a point here, but it’s a point nonetheless. A point we need to contemplate.


Since the events of last week, I have spoken to a few fellow students who went travelling to some of these countries this past summer. Tom Ballantye visited Tunisia relatively soon after the beach attack. Tom stressed how he avoided ‘iconic beach locations,’, as he felt that they would be ‘prime targets.’ Moreover, there were not as many other tourists as expected, there were a few other backpackers scattered across hostels, and it seems as though the attacks have scared people off. ‘Once you get used to the street scams and look past all that it is a beautiful country and a wonderful place to visit. Lonely Planet’s top place to go I believe.’ Tom’s experience of Tunisia seemed fun and enjoyable, albeit cautious nonetheless. However, not all students had the same experience. Emily Bennet did not like Morocco and cried after the first day, but she didn’t leave Marrakesh (the country’s capital). Perhaps this is just a choice of holiday preference? And, not a reflection of recent terrorist events there. Whilst, there seems to be a strong divide. Travel plans can still go ahead, but tourists, travellers and business trips alike need to be careful and weary of their surroundings.

This is what I would recommend… carry on travelling but exercise extreme caution. Gone are the days when travel was relatively relaxed, just be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

Beth Vernon argues against tourism

The downing of Metrojet Flight 9268 was terrible. The fallout from the crash has been catastrophic. Immediately afterwards, panic spread as flights were grounded and theories of the cause of the crash circulated. Amid this turmoil, hundreds of stranded tourists in the resort of Sharm-El-Sheik had no idea when they could return home. This fear and chaos has never completely died down.

The Egyptian resort has always been popular with tourists, and when in 2010 flights were grounded by the eruption of an Icelandic volcano, many were thrilled to be able to enjoy an extra 2 weeks in the sun. Holidaying in the Middle East can offer sun soaked beaches throughout the year, with fabulous cities to explore, all without the price tag of places like the South of France. That’s without mentioning the wonderful culture, food and people of countries like Turkey, Oman and the UAE.


These are some of the things that have attracted tourists for decades. Yet these popular destinations are now tinged with fear as political instability and terrorism rear their ugly heads.  It’s not too long ago that 38 people, 30 of them British, died in the shootings in Tunisia, another well-liked destination for tourists. After the killings, tourists commendably vowed to continue visiting the country. However after the recent plane disaster in Egypt, which experts are now attributing to a terrorist’s bomb, people are more on edge.

The possibility of a plane being brought down, and that only a small number of terrorists could do it, in an otherwise seemingly safe country like Egypt, is even more frightening. It’s not longer the countries we might expect that are too dangerous to travel to: much of the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia are no longer the peaceful Paradises we once thought. It’s a sad truth that these beautiful and exciting countries are too dangerous to travel to. Yet terrorism is not going away any time soon: even as I write news is breaking of gunmen holding hostages at a hotel in Mali.

Besides, there are so many stunning and safe places to visit around the world. Obviously no holiday is without risk, but much of it can be easily avoided by where we choose to travel. It really is always better to be safe than sorry.



23rd November 2015 at 1:32 pm

Images from

Renate Dodell, Dennis Jarvis and Henning Leweke