The expected (almost inevitable) loss of revenue has caused a rather negative reaction throughout the African tourism industry to the worldwide travel alert that was issued by the US State Department following the attacks in Paris and Mali, as well as the downing of a Russian airplane in Egypt earlier this year.
The Russian Metrojet airliner was brought down over Sinai desert in Egypt in October, killing 224 people on board. The airplane was bombed using a homemade bomb and the attack was connected to Isis. Paris attacks occurred on November 13, killing 130 people. On 20 November, Islamist militants killed 22 of the 170 hostages they took at a hotel in Bamako, Mali.
Following these three attacks, on November 24, the US State Department issued a worldwide travel alert, saying that the IS group, Boko Haram and al-Qaeda plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. While they added there was no reason to believe that Americans would be targeted specifically, they did say that the alert would remain in place until 24 February 2016.
One of the first to come out and say that the alert is “completely useless” was Jeff Chaterton of the global crisis communications consultancy by the name Checkmate Public Affairs. He also added that the alert was unfair to countries who are at reduced threat of terrorist attacks.
CEO of the African Travel and tourism Association, Nigel Vere Nicoll said that while the travel industry is not “generally keen on travel advisories”, they do hold respect for them. That being said, he added that alerts should be more specific. He also added that a number of African destinations will be harmed financially by this alert, even though they are at no greater risk than two months ago.
He added that it was not just American travel alerts that have such detrimental effects on African tourism, but those issued by other countries as well, such as Germany or United Kingdom. He reminded everyone of last year’s damage to Kenyan coastal resorts after an alert issued by UK Foreign Office. Another very interesting sentiment expressed by Nicoll was that this only promotes the goals of those who are the problem, i.e. the terrorists. And really, by succumbing to worldwide panic and preventing good people to earn their money, we are succumbing to them. We are letting the terrorists win.