#ParisAttacks: 5 Hard lessons on how terrorism affects global tourism

2015-11-16 09:26 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - Terror comes in all forms, shapes and guises.

The destructive groups of this world use it to intimidate and rob everyday citizens, like you and me, of our peace and security - on every level.

Whether it be to the extent that we physically shrink away from travelling to new places and the enlightening experiences they hold; to the subliminal yet equally devastating effect of having us making less eye contact with each other, recoiling from possible meaningful connections and veiling deviations from 'societal norms' in an unfortunate layer of suspicion and fearful detachment.

There is little doubt that those behind the devastating Paris attacks that took centre stage across all news platforms in the past 48hrs are intent on achieving exactly this.

Isis has come forward claiming responsibility for the attack – read News24’s coverage here.

The attack, which left an estimated 129 people dead and more than 350 seriously injured, has however blown-up perceptions of the Isis crisis - forcing the world to evaluate the way in which it perceives and reacts to these terror attacks.

Paris remains one of the most sought-after destinations, with over 14-million tourists annually it is the third most-visited destination in the world. Since 1 June 2015 an estimate 29 terror attacks have taken place across this world (And those are just the ones we know about) -  three of these centred in France, including the Thalys attack and there was also the Charlie Hebdo attack earlier in the year - all claiming countless lives.

Sadly, like Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt and Kenya who have also suffered extreme terror attacks, many of us might now opt to change our travel plans and embrace the fear.

In doing so we are allowing these fatal battles to stack up, letting terrorism win the war. Traveller24 looks at five hard lessons to be learnt by the effects of terrorism when it comes to travelling the world - as well as what it means for global tourism as a whole and how you as a traveller are affected…

1. It’s clear that terrorism can take place anywhere in the world

Terrorism and violence, in broad terms, are used by organisations to exact fear over the people and nations they wish to dominate.  Across the globe, Isis, Al-Qaeda and Boko Harem are the organisations largely responsible for the most horrific of attacks. 

Isis has been exacting a plan to establish a caliphate in territories under its control in both Iraq and Syria. According to Award-winning Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn these are "the seven wars in seven Muslim countries that are fuelling Isis", as detailed by this graphical feature from Statista.

3. Our grief and understanding of situations across this world is selective and far too fleeting

On Thursday, just a day before the attack in Paris, a fiery double-suicide bombing ripped through southern Beirut, killing an estimated 43 people and the world barely flinched. But in a show against the marginalisation of those suffering under terrorism in less popular destination of the globe, many across social media called the issue to book. In a sombre twist of terror, Parisians lit candles on Place de la Republic in Paris, to remember the 148 people who lost their lives in a terrorist attack on the University of Garissa, Kenya earlier in April. 

In October, I had the opportunity to visit Nairobi, Kenya and had I allowed fear and issues of terrorism to cloud my decision I can safely say I would have missed out on meeting some truly inspiring individuals and seeing this really special part of Africa.  

Added to this the evolution of the social media hashtag is proving to be as mighty as the sword as #PrayforParis soon evolved into #PrayforOttery closer to home in Cape Town after the attacks, where a gang war has been waging for months now.

All we can do is continue to recognise our humanity within each other. Deciding to hole ourselves up in our corners of the world is not the solution. The point is to not let terror win. 

4. Your focus is your reality

Terrorists want to increase their fear footprint. It cannot be said enough, as long as they keep your view of the world narrowed by the idea that you are at risk, they're successful in their mission.

There is this old-favourite by Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad,   “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  

And then there is this by religious scholar Reza Aslan, “Islam doesn't promote violence or peace. Islam is just a religion and like every religion in the world it depends on what you bring to it. If you're a violent person, your Islam, your Judaism, your Christianity, your Hinduism is gonna be violent. There are marauding Buddhist monks in Myanmar slaughtering women and children. Does Buddhism promote violence? Of course not. People are violent or peaceful and that depends on their politics, their social world, the ways that they see their communities.”

Refresh your perspective: The worst thing you can do is run in fear. Seek out all the information at your disposal about the destination you plan to visit. Staying ill-informed is the best way to allow those who seek to disrupt the world as we know it, to win. An effective weapon against terrorism is to learn about and understand as many different cultures and creeds out there, seeking some sort of common ground.

ALSO SEE - PICS: 12 Beautiful Destinations to help you decide your next big escape  

5. Social media is useful but it’s adding to our detachment from the reality of situations in an alarming way – polarising people, communities and continents.

In a strange confluence of ideologies and analysis, correspondence between two influential thought leaders of the 20th century Einstein and Freud on Violence, Peace and Human Nature - a proposed solution to guard against the dangers of war across the world was to "establishment a free association of men whose previous work and achievements offer a guarantee of their ability and integrity... combining the qualities of critical judgment, earnestness and responsibility," pretty much summing up the power of twitter and other key social media networks. 

This Statista chart, showing how the terror group extends it presence across social media, is both alarming and a sign of our digital era.