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Coping With Terror Threat To Tourism
London, UK, September 5, 2006 – The killing of a British tourist in Jordan has once again highlighted the security threat visitors face overseas, as well as raised concerns over the impact it will have on Jordan's tourism industry.
But as more and more countries are targeted by terror groups - the UK, Egypt, US and Indonesia to name a few - does the threat of terror still put us off, and, if so, how do nations entice overseas visitors back to their shores?
It is nearly 10 years since 58 tourists were killed by gunmen in front of the Temple of Hatshepsut near Luxor in Egypt.
Since then, Egypt has worked hard to attract back the tourists and despite suffering a number of other tourist-targeted attacks - including April's explosions in the Red Sea resort of Dahab - it is still luring holidaymakers in their thousands.
According to Anna Paynton, of travel publisher Rough Guides, Egypt's success has been securing our confidence by "honestly defining the problem".
They have tried to put the risk into perspective and let the security measures being put in place be known, she said.
"People do still travel to Egypt," she said.
The Foreign Office is also quick to point out the relatively low risk of being caught in a terrorist-related attack.
"It is important to remember that the overall risk of being involved in a terrorist attack is still low," it said.
"Injury or death is far more likely through road accidents, swimming or alcohol-related incidents, health problems or natural disasters."
Indeed, there are currently just three countries which the Foreign Office advises against traveling to at all - the Ivory Coast, Somalia and Lebanon.
However, it does advise taking precautions in others where terrorists have operated in the past and to always check its website for advice before traveling.
Tips include looking out for people acting suspiciously near Western institutions or gatherings, avoiding political demonstrations and not flaunting your (relative) wealth.
Even so, events following the September 11 attacks have meant tourists, in particular Westerners, have increasingly become a target, says Rough Guides' Anna Payton.
While in the past travelers' safety concerns had primarily been about theft - such as avoiding certain areas at night - terrorism is now another concern people have to bear in mind.
"A lot of people are much more aware of the threat and choose destinations on that basis," she said.
"I still have to say that people are still traveling. I don't think terrorism will ever stop that."
Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent newspaper, said people had to be well aware what the risks were before they went abroad.
That said, he would travel to Jordan "tomorrow".
"Certainly, as Westerners, we have to be aware that not only do we represent to the average petty criminal a good source of possible income, we also represent trophies to the people of violence who wish to try and further whatever campaign they are seeking to forward," he said.
Janet Hanson of Visit London believes we have in fact turned a corner - we have become almost immune to the threat of terror attacks.
The market was becoming more "robust" with visitors viewing the threat as a global issue, not limited to one country or city.
For example, the latest UK security scare - the disruption of an alleged terror plot to blow up planes mid-flight - seemed to have had little impact on visitor numbers.
"We did various follow-ups after these events in terms of the UK and the impact on London attractions, and people weren't reporting any great impact in term of down turns in numbers," she said.
"From that point of view that's a positive thing for UK tourism."
The numbers traveling to the UK from Europe had been remained largely the same, she said, with people only put off by the "hassle" of getting here, ie increased security measures.
"From a US point of view, they tend to see this as more of a USA issue. For them it's more about the war on terror."
So what was the secret?
"It is really the business-as-usual attitude that we have got," she said.
"On the whole, the story is really very positive," she said.
Source: BBC News