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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Volume 4, Issue 1
I am delighted to welcome back returning theme editor Anthony Clayton, joined by Ian Boxill, both of the University of the West Indies. The Caribbean region is heavily dependent on tourism and in WHATT, Vol. 1 No. 3, Anthony and his team examined the implications of climate change for the Caribbean travel and tourism industry. The “climate change” theme issue drew on an array of research to assess the current and future impacts on the region and the action steps needed to contain the ongoing threat from extreme weather and related events. In part, this region is also affected by high levels of crime and fluctuations in demand caused by acts of terrorism and so in this theme issue Anthony, Ian and their team of contributors consider the relationships between crime, terrorism and tourism development. I should like to thank them for what is a hard-hitting analysis of the risks, challenges and policy options and implications for tourism development in the Caribbean and in all other tourist destinations that are grappling with these issues.
WHATT aims to make a practical and theoretical contribution to hospitality and tourism development and we seek to do this by using a key question to focus attention on an industry issue. If you would like to contribute to our work by serving as a WHATT theme editor, do please contact me.
Richard TeareManaging Editor, WHATT
Tourism, crime and terrorism: what are the risks, challenges and policy options?
The Caribbean is the most tourist-dependent region of the world. Tourism earnings now account for over 25 percent of the Caribbean’s GDP and significantly more in some Caribbean islands. The industry is also the main source of employment in the region. In the most tourism-dependent islands, over 90 percent of all employment is related, directly or indirectly, to the industry.
This situation has arisen for positive as well as negative reasons. The sub-tropical climate, beaches, natural beauty and convenient geographical location have enabled the Caribbean nations to develop competitive tourism businesses. On the other hand, the decline of traditional export industries such as sugar and bananas left many countries without a viable economic alternative. As a result, tourism earnings are now a critically important source of hard currency, and vital for the region’s balance of payments. Tourism is also a labour-intensive industry, and its role in generating direct and indirect employment in the host economies is regarded as one of its most important immediate economic benefits.
However, the Caribbean also has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime, averaging about 30/100,000 across the region, which is the same as the standard benchmark for a civil war. In Jamaica, the level of homicide peaked in 2009 at 63/100,000, one normally associated with active war zones, although it declined markedly after the extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke (see the following).
These problems are deep-rooted. For example, Jamaica’s economy has been weak since the political crises of the early 1970s, with a pattern of growth, collapse, recovery and relapse. This has fostered a wide range of social problems, including unemployment, underemployment, persistent poverty, low levels of educational achievement, and an exceptionally high level of violent crime. This has, in turn, perpetuated the conditions that can leave entire communities marginalized and therefore more vulnerable to both extortion and political clientilism. The worst affected areas have unhealthy physical and social environments, limited community facilities, few social amenities and a pervasive sense of fatalism and despair.
They are the breeding grounds for much of the street-level crime that spills out and destabilizes the rest of the community, as criminality looks like the most viable career option to many young people. This combination of problems helps to deter foreign investment, thus establishing a vicious cycle of chronic underperformance.
This appears paradoxical. Why do tourists continue to come to such troubled and violent nations? As Korstanje and Clayton point out in this issue, people clearly do respond to the perception of risk. For example, many US citizens stopped flying after 9/11, and the perceived attractiveness of tourist destinations in Muslim nations fell sharply in all Western nations. World demand for travel and tourism fell by 8.5 percent, but the Caribbean industry, which relies more on US visitors, fell by 13.5 percent, which translated into a temporary loss of some 365,000 jobs.
However, as Korstanje and Clayton also point out, crime kills far more people than terrorism; Jamaica suffers the equivalent of one 9/11 incident each week in terms of the percentage of the population killed by organized crime and gangs. Yet this does not have the same effect in terms of deterring tourists. So tourists will continue to visit countries where their risks are actually significantly higher.
One reason for this is that tourists in the Caribbean are not usually directly affected by the violence. Most of the killing occurs in the inner city or other residential areas, which are not normally tourist destinations. In countries like Jamaica, many guests stay in all-inclusive resorts, which usually have effective security.
Another reason, however, is that most people do not perceive risk accurately. The main reason for the decline in Caribbean tourism after 9/11 was that many US citizens temporarily stopped flying; many of them chose to drive to US-based destinations rather than fly. However, about 44,000 people die annually in car accidents in the USA, while about 200 die in aircraft accidents. So as a result of choosing to drive instead of flying, about 1,595 additional people died in car accidents. This means that the number of fatalities caused by 9/11 (when 2,976 people died) increased by over 50% because of the way that people misperceive risk.
It is also important to note that risks change over time, driven by factors such as the evolution in the nature of terrorism, and that most tourists are probably unaware of their potential exposure. Most European terrorists, such as the IRA or ETA, applied a relatively rational cost-benefit analysis, calculating risk against the value of the impact. This does not apply, however, to people motivated by religious fanaticism rather than by power and/or profit; and the latter group of terrorists have realized that tourism is both economically significant and a soft target. As Crawford points out, the murder of 58 western tourists at Luxor in 1997, is estimated to have cost Egypt about half of its tourism revenue over the following year, and the killing of over 200 people in the bombing of the Sari Club in Kuta in October 2002 by an al Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian militant network had a similarly devastating impact on Bali’s tourism industry.
The tourism industry has remarkable resilience, and recovers relatively rapidly even from horrific shocks like these. The countries that are dependent on tourism often demonstrate relatively rapid recovery compared to those that are dependent on commodities, where prices can stay low for extended periods. However, it might not be safe to assume that this will always be the case. The Caribbean tourism industry had to offer discounts in the wake of 9/11, and has still not managed to revert to its pre-9/11 prices. There are also some potential vulnerabilities in the Caribbean tourism industry that might, if exploited by terrorists, have the effect of depressing the industry for many years.
The authors in this theme issue look at some of these troubling questions and paradoxes.
Karagiannis and Madjd-Sadjadi look at the many negative implications of crime for tourism in the Caribbean, with particular regard to the economic costs, the loss of long-term investment and the impact of illegal drugs. They conclude that Caribbean governments have to do more to protect their most important industry, and recommend a combination of both hard and soft policing measures and educational programs targeting youth, which emphasise the avoidance of criminal behaviour.
Boxill looks at the impact on Jamaica’s tourism industry of the heavily-publicized extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, believed to be one of the most powerful criminal bosses in Jamaica, which led to a violent confrontation in the capital, Kingston, between the security forces and armed gangs, in which over 70 people died. Tourism receipts in Kingston fell, although the visitor levels to the resort areas on the other side of the country were relatively little affected. Boxill therefore concludes that crime and related urban problems have to be viewed as potentially problematical for future tourism development as well as for national security.
Crawford looks at the impact of cases where tourists were directly targeted by terrorists, in particular Egypt and Bali, and finds that the industry was seriously affected, but recovered surprisingly rapidly. After the 1997 Luxor attacks Egypt’s tourism revenues fell by $1.17 billion. In 1999, however, Egypt’s tourism receipts increased by 50 percent over the previous year. Similarly, in 2002, a bombing in Bali killed 202 people all but one of whom was a foreigner visiting Bali on vacation – which was the stated intent of the terrorist group involved. Bali’s visitor arrivals promptly fell by 22 percent, which resulted in the loss of over 300,000 jobs. Just two years later, however, Bali had its all-time peak in visitor arrivals, with 1.5 million tourists. This highlights the extraordinary resilience of the industry.
Stahura, Henthorne, George and Soragham further emphasize the difference that good planning and decision-making can make to emergency planning and the speed of recovery after a terrorist attack.
Hall notes that reports of Jamaica’s corruption, crime and violence are frequently published in the local and international media, and that these have serious negative implications for Jamaica’s international image and reputation, and by extension, the tourism industry. He therefore interviewed some of the key hotel stakeholders in the Jamaican industry to get the most up-to-date assessment of the current position with regard to crime, internal security and the possible threat of terrorism. He found the industry was still unable to restore its pre 9/11 prices, but that the stakeholders were otherwise reasonably confident, having quietly strengthened their security measures in the meantime.
Cowell, McDavid and Saunders supported the finding that the Jamaican tourism industry had an excellent safety record, which they concluded was the result of an on-going commitment to a multi-level integrated security management strategy. However, they also pointed out that the juxtaposition of opulence with poverty and crime inherent in the Jamaican tourism model is potentially explosive, and likely to become more unstable in future. They therefore recommended that the industry has to do more to contribute to the development of the people of the communities at the margins of the resort centres, and not leave them in “infernal misery”.
These papers address some of the most troubling issues of our time. How much longer can an industry that exists to provide convenience, comfort, leisure and luxury survive, when the host societies are experiencing profound social and economic problems, and living with a level of killing more characteristic of a war zone?
These papers are neither optimistic, nor pessimistic, but realistic. They set out the issues, identify the costs and consequences, and point out some of the potential solutions.
About the Theme Editors
Professor Anthony Clayton is the Alcan Professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies, Visiting Professor at the Centre for Environmental Strategy in the School of Engineering at the University of Surrey, Visiting Professor at the Institute for Studies of Science, Technology and Innovation in the School of Social and Political Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Adjunct Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development in the Faculty of Business and Management, University of Technology, and Fellow of the Caribbean Academy of Science. His research interests include policy analysis and strategic planning. He has undertaken policy studies for many governments and intergovernmental agencies.
Professor Ian Boxill holds the Grace Kennedy Foundation, Carlton Alexander Chair in Management Studies at The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. He is also the Director of the Centre for Tourism and Policy Research at the same university. He was previously visiting professor at the University of Waikato, New Zealand and the University of Quintana Roo, Mexico. He is the founder and Editor of the academic journal IDEAZ (www.ideaz-institute.com) and founder and Editor of the popular science and life magazine CaribXplorer (www.caribxplore.drupalgardens.com). Boxill has conducted extensive research on tourism impacts in the Caribbean and Mexico. His research interests are quite diverse and include tourism impacts in relation to culture, the economy and climate change.
Anthony Clayton, Ian BoxillTheme Editors