long-debated war has finally been launched. The human
sufferings and the economic loss on account of the war
are immeasurable. And a major casualty of the war is tourism.
of the largest industries in the world today, tourism
saw a sharp decline after the dark 11 September 2001 incidents
almost in all parts of the world. That's the phenomenon
we find whenever there is a terrorist attack or a war.
Before the twin towers collapsed, world tourism was recording
an increase of about 3-4 per cent in tourist arrivals,
whereas figures now stand at just 1-per cent growth.
that after the crumbling of the World Trade Center, the
US lost over $1 billion-worth business due to widespread
meeting cancellations. Both business travel and holiday
tourism in and out of the US got affected to a great extent.
Hundreds of thousands of workers belonging to US airline,
hotel and other travel industries have already lost their
Now, if the Iraq
war that has erupted despite heavy opposition and protests
prolongs, it is estimated that more than 3 million jobs
in the tourism industry will suffer, with a $30-billion
loss in 2003, according to a study by the World Tourism
Council. The worst sufferer will be the US. It is estimated
that a loss of 4.50 lakh jobs will decrease the economic
value by 3.7 per cent in the US during 2003 on account
of the war.
war will be a big blow to the $460-billion world tourism
industry, which has been struggling after the 11 September
attacks. America's Iraq war partner, Britain's estimated
loss on account of the war through tourism would be £1
billion, according to the British Hospitality Association.
The loss for the
European Union will be 260,000 jobs and the loss of economic
value will be $270 million. The slump in the world tourism
industry during the past two years is responsible for
loss of jobs for 6.6 million people, according to the
International Labour Organisation (ILO).
A Merril Lynch
tourism research study points out that the US airlines
industry's loss will be around $30 billion if the war
prolongs. The industry loss in 2002 was nearly $7 billion
and the 2003 estimation is $6.4 billion. The world's No
2 Airline, United Airlines, has joined the league of other
airlines like the Arlington and Virginia-based US Airways
in filing for bankruptcy with a loss of over $4 billion.
This bad news of the recent past will pale into insignificance
if the guns of the Iraqi war are going to boom for long.
The danger and
devastation caused by the war in Afghanistan and the warlike
situation found in the Indo-Pak border last year did pull
down tourist arrivals to the regions concerned. This resulted
in a 14.7-per cent decline in hotel occupancy in India
and average room rates also fell by a record low of 6.8
per cent during the period.
survey by Pannell Kerr Forster Consultants on the Indian
hotel industry further shows that food sales went cold
by 3 per cent and beverages sales lost their fizz by 12
per cent. External accounts earnings from travel and tourism
in India also showed a decline of about 4.8 per cent.
Somewhat a similar fate stares at the countries of Indonesia
and Kenya due to the chilling terrorist attacks in Bali
Jobs at stake
India's share in world tourism is just 0.38 per cent.
Tourism's most important contribution to India is employment
- 17.4 million jobs are there in tourism industry, which
is 5.8 per cent of the total employment.
The panic created
by the war and the travel warnings issued by governments
in the wake of terrorist attacks and wars impact the psyche
of the world traveller, who for a long time has been thinking
that travelling anywhere in the world involves some risk.
Hence, travel guidelines should not be issued on illogical
assumptions on the part of the governments concerned without
assessing the ground realities; this only spread paranoia
among world tourists.
It is interesting
to note what a senior Indonesian minister, Laksamana Sukardi,
said soon after the Bali bombings. He appealed to the
nations around the world to lift their warning against
travel to Indonesia in the wake of the Bali bomb attacks
stating, "Restricting travel around the world is
like offering extra rewards for terrorists."
world tourism leaders and networks like the WTO, the World
Travel and Tourism Council and other international and
national specific tourism networks around the world are
required to organise persuasion campaigns against acts
of terrorism and against nations that resort to as-if-the-only
means to contain terrorism, that is war.
The way ahead
Governments that promote tourism as their sole economy
booster should join hands and see to that their voice
is heard in unison against terrorism and war as well,
which in itself is considered to be nothing but counter-terrorism.
Affected corporates and allied business and trade associations
should take up the issues and persuade the nations in
question to give up terrorism and war.
World tourism communities
should take all measures to overcome the problems faced
by the industry due to terrorism and wars, by forging
effective collaboration between countries to make the
world a safe and secure place for sustainable tourism.
the same time, in a promotional effort, the world tourism
industry should come forward under the aegis of whichever
world-level organisation to provide mutual assistance
by all means to member countries, to strengthen the tourism
supply chain around the globe and to help the governments
concerned in rebuilding their reputation as tourist destinations.
Therefore, it is
imperative to avoid any sort of war or terrorism.
is a senior executive in a tourism-related industry. The
views expressed above are personal)