Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

18 Aug, 2016

Why tourism will remain a victim of terrorism

Bangkok – Albert Einstein is credited with the quote which defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Clearly, that definition applies to the travel & tourism industry which, after every act of terrorism, issues a routine condemnation and then foolishly expects that to make any difference at all.

This has been standard operating procedure for several years, and will probably remain so, minus any attempt to demand accountability for the monstrous failure that is the “war on terror”.

Accountability is an important check and balance mechanism to ensure that those in power exercise that power responsibly within the parameters of the rule of law. Alongside its first cousin, transparency, it is recognised as one of the pillars of a functioning democracy.

A primary reason, possibly the primary reason, why terrorism rages on unchecked is because accountability is never sought from those sucking up billions of dollars worth of tax money in fighting the war on terror, supposedly on behalf of the tax-paying general public.

Start off with one very rational question: September 2016 will mark 15 years since 9/11, the mother-lode act of terrorism. Today, has the situation become worse, or better? If you answered better, no need to read any further. But if you answered worse, please ponder the second question: Why is it worse?

Then, a slew of corollary questions will open up, such as:

(+) Will it get worse still?

(+) How much is it costing?

(+) Who is profiting from all that money?

(+) Who should be held accountable for the failures of the last 15 years?

(+) Is there an alternative strategy?

(+) Is there more to it than meets the eye?

(+) Is the general public being lied to?

(+) Who should be held accountable for the lies?

These are normal questions that deserve to be asked. Any corporate CEO would face them from his/her Board of Directors or shareholders in the event of a failed strategy. Not so in travel & tourism, a spineless industry that prefers to cocoon itself within the confines of politically-correct comfort zones.

Travel & tourism leaders do not seek any accountability from the political-security establishment because neither the public nor the press seeks accountability from their leaders. When failures go unchallenged without anyone being held accountable, it only encourages those responsible to continue to fail, and worse still, profit from their failures.

This is the worst form of apathy. Travel & tourism industry leaders should consider themselves very fortunate indeed to be leading such a flock of apathetic sheeple.

On 9 August, the ITB Berlin group issued a media release headlined, “Tourism in Times of Terror.” It reported on the results of a special survey conducted by the travel research firm IPK International in over 40 major tourism source markets. One of the findings of interviews with 50,000 people was that the threat of terrorism influences the travel behaviour of 40 per cent of international tourists, with the results varying significantly depending on the source market.

The media release added, “The destinations rated the least safe were those where there have already been attacks or unrest in the past. In a worldwide comparison, Israel, Turkey and Egypt received the lowest ratings. A destination’s bad image even affects neighbouring regions, regardless of whether there had been any incidents there or not. What became clear was that 2016 will show some substantial shifts in demand. Some countries can expect massive losses, far and foremost Turkey, but also Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Israel.”

That’s a very interesting finding. Israel, which claims to be at the forefront of the “war on terror” and is home to dozens of security companies and consultancies profiting handsomely from it, is itself rated one of the least safe destinations.

Which opens up even more questions pertaining to accountability:

(+) Why does travel & tourism continue to buy Israeli-made security equipment, or hire Israeli security companies to guard its establishments?

(+) Why does it not challenge the widely-accepted root cause of a lot of global terrorism: the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine?

The third major area of accountability is that pertaining to the nomenclature of terrorism.

It is widely believed across the Islamic world that the “war on terror” is a thinly disguised war on Islam. This belief is not without merit and can easily be proved.

Whenever a Muslim commits an act of violence, it is immediately linked to “radical Islam”, or some kind of “jihad.” But when a Hindu, Jew or Christian commits an act of political violence, it is never linked back to their religion.

When an American shoots two Imams on the streets of New York, it is not terrorism. When Assamese Indians carry out attacks in Northeast India, it is not terrorism. When Kashmiri Indians do the same in their restive state, it is definitely terrorism, for which Pakistan is automatically held responsible.

Here are headlines from two Indian newspapers that prove this point:

Note the reference to "militant"

Note the reference to “militant”

Note the reference to "rebels"

Note the reference to “rebels”

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 11.05.27 AM

Note the reference to “New York man”

In India, one of the worst acts of terrorist carnage in Indian history took place in Gujarat in 2002, when the Chief Minister was a certain Mr. Narendra Modi. Not only was Mr. Modi cleared of all charges of involvement, but the people of India elevated him to the prime ministership. Today, anyone who dares to publicly mention the anti-Muslim carnage risks becoming the victim of an act of ……. (You fill in the blank. What word would you use?).

The real reason why the “war on terror” will continue without end is because those supposedly waging it do not fear being held accountable for their failures. Nor do they fear exposure of their lies, deceptions and obfuscations. Their modus operandi also provides for all those pursuing and/or exposing the truth to be crushed, assassinated or made to fear for their lives like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.

So much for the “freedom and democracy” promised by George W. Bush Jr., former President of the self-proclaimed leader of the “free world,” the United States.

As long as travel & tourism remains an industry of sheeple who can be fooled all the time, the war-on-terror brigade will continue to dismiss it as a bunch of stupid suckers, and treat it with the contempt it deserves.

In turn, however, the industry and its leadership will face future accountability about why they did not demand accountability. So, they can either start demanding it now or themselves face accountability later.

I began this dispatch with Einstein’s definition of insanity. I end it by citing Gandhi’s pursuit of Truth, as follows:

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 11.48.40 AM
Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 11.48.54 AM

 

  • Kevin B Murphy

    I place the following, for relevance, at the start of this comment: i.e.your own sentence above, “Travel & tourism leaders do not seek any accountability from the political-security establishment because neither the public nor the press seeks accountability from their leaders”.
    So, with your other questions raised, perhaps a few more:

    Who, if not you as a responsible member of “the press”, can be a more effective voice and should be held responsible to provide similar criticism of “the Press” for their not asking for greater accountability?

    And not just of “the political-security establishment” but also of those supposedly many silent islamic leaders across the world, both political or religious, who remain unwilling to strongly condemn the same violence against other innocents when committed in that religion’s name? We read little press criticism of them, why?

    As for expecting ‘the leaders’ of travel and tourism (a truly polymorphous, and often unconnected, set at best!) to do more than they do without then forcing the political powers in reaction to introduce greater protectionism and a return to restricted visa access by way of any warped sense of care for safety of their own citizens, is if not a little naive, then a deIiberate distraction from directing stronger criticism at many of those of your own profession who have failed all of us.

    The Press, in all its media forms, has become too shallow and mostly meek when it comes to asking for that same accountability and more often can no longer be relied on as any real conscience for the greater good. While acknowledging the trials, and often worse that many in your profession have also faced under many regimes, there are those ‘leaders of the press’ in less restricted locations, many with international networks, who could be doing so much more, and likely be listened too more readily by much of the world, if they rather chose conscience over commerce.
    They have also lost their willingness or serious interest to shame with real evidence so that politicians increasingly can and do disregard what ever mild criticism they might read or hear. especially when it is not picked up by more than an occasional passive reader or those unwilling to hit the streets in support of such protest.

    Would love to see a call that looks within, as well!!

    KM