By Aradhya Misra:
It is almost every German’s dream to secure a spot inside the Hacker-Festzelt – “The Heaven of the Bavarians.” It’s a beer tent at the world’s largest beer festival Oktoberfest, which takes place every year in Munich, Germany in September-October. With this year’s edition of the German beer festival just around the corner, one would expect pre-bookings to be on a high. But due to the five violent attacks in Germany between July 18 and July 26 there has been a trend reversal.
A number of people have been calling the tent lately to cancel their reservations, reports Anton Roiderer – the host of the Hacker tent at Oktoberfest since 1989. The unusual occurrence, with only a few weeks left for the largest beer festival of the world, has put the tent hosts and the German Tourist Board in doubt about the success of this event.
The last one and a half years we have seen suicide bombers and terrorists striking travel at its heart. The shootings at the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris on January 7, 2015, the multiple explosions and shootings in Paris on November 13, 2015 that resulted in a death toll of 130, and the bombings at the airport and metro station of Brussels on March 22, 2016 are some of the worst examples. The multiple massacres in Germany and France in July 2016 have only added to the European horror.
But the question that arises is, “In the wake of these public atrocities, how has tourism been affected?” According to the consultancy firm MKG Hospitality, the occupancy rate at hotels fell 21% on the Saturday following the November 2015 attacks in Paris. Likewise, a drop of 10% was seen in Turkish tourism following the February 2016 suicide bombings.
Condé Nast Traveller, a travel magazine published an interview of Stan Sandberg, the co-founder of travelinsurance.com where he says that there is a spike in travel insurance after terror attacks but they normalise after one to two weeks.
It is also interesting to note that despite the various attacks, travel and tourism sector eventually grew by 3.1% globally in 2015. The industry ended by creating 7.2 million jobs in 2015 and contributed $7.2 trillion to the global GDP.
Another study by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) suggests that it takes 13 months for tourism to recover from a terrorist attack, as opposed to the 21 months that it takes to bounce back from an epidemic or the 24 months in the case of an environment disaster. Thomas Filandro, analyst at Susquehanna International Group writes, “International unrest related to recent events create a higher degree of near-term uncertainty that is difficult to predict.”
Despite the disastrous impact of terror attacks and its psychological effect on the travellers, the travel industry doesn’t seem to stay down for long. Travel, it seems, has become a ritual that few want to give up. They might delay the time of travel or change the travel location, but travel they will. After all, as Barry Diller quoted after the 9/11 WTC attacks, “If there’s life, there’s travel.”