is threatening tourism

Terrorism is the biggest threat facing the international tourism sector, says Prof Melville Saayman of the research unit Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES) in Potchefstroom.

On 5 June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar, citing the country's support of extremist groups as the reason. This includes banning Qatar Airways from using their airspace.


The debate in the USA about the use of laptops and other electronic devices on commercial flights and President Donald Trump's insistence on a travel ban on Muslims from certain countries complicates matters even further.


"It cannot be overstated how severely the numerous terrorism attacks across the globe have affected the tourism sector,” says Melville. “We won't be going where we usually went; we won't use the same routes; we won't visit places that we used to adore. From concerts to restaurants, they have all become targets."


He pointed out that Africa is in jeopardy as well.


"It is not just ISIS; it is their other affiliates and similar extremist groups such as Boko Haram that can result in countries such as Nigeria facing dire tourism consequences,” he warns. “Bans such as the one imposed on Qatar and Qatar Airways serve as a warning; a deterrent to countries who do not do enough to curtail terrorism within their borders. The speed with which this ban happened opens the door for similar actions."


It is a sad state of affairs, however.


"A ban like this is punishing the greater tourism industry and more specifically countries depending on tourism. It's like sanctions, where you punish those people who deserve it the least. In this regard we are playing into the terrorists’ hands.”

Prof Melville Saayman warns that the recent ban by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Qatar Airways using their airspace poses a big threat to tourism worldwide.