The recent attacks in France, and more specifically in Paris, were not only bad news for its neighbouring countries and the rest of Europe, but it also sent the entire tourism industry worldwide into a frenzy. France, as every one knows, is the numero uno tourism destination in the world and by that yardstick Paris is the nerve-centre of the global tourism industry. The resultant chaos and uncertainty that has loomed over all of Europe and countries as far as North America and even Asia point to the fact that this industry is in such a fragile situation today.
Over the last couple of decades tourism has been largely affected by various external factors such as wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, and even global economic meltdowns. Terrorism however has emerged as the single largest threat to our tourism industry, globally. Speaking from the Indian perspective, our country has been a victim of terrorism and acts of terror over the last three decades. Consequently, the Indian tourism industry has learnt to live and flourish despite the constant threat of terror. Even though our international visitor arrivals may not match up to our expectation, our ever growing and burgeoning domestic tourism segment is proof enough that Indians are travelling all over our country, even to the so-called “unsafe areas”. Indians as a race have become very accustomed to all sorts of calamities over the years and this is reflected in the global tourism scenario as well. When the world was reeling post the 9/11 attacks in America, the Middle East and North African crisis, the Madrid bombings, the aftermath of Tsunamis in South East Asia, the recent unrest in Thailand etc, it was mainly the Indian tourists who continued to visit all of these destinations in large numbers. And in fact, India registered amongst the highest growth of tourist arrivals into these troubled destinations when compared to any other market, globally. The point I am trying to make here is that France in particular, and all of Europe in general must see a bigger opportunity in the Indian market today and renew efforts to woo Indian tourists even more in this time of distress.
Unfortunately, terrorism is here to stay and is not likely to abate in near future. Hence the global tourism industry will have to learn to cope with terror, prepare for any eventualities, take terrorism in its stride and strive to become as resilient as India is.
Editor & COOsheldon@saffronsynergies.in