Qatar Airways ban the sign of things to come

Prof Melville Saayman
Prof Melville Saayman

Terrorism is the biggest threat facing the international tourism sector.

This according to Professor Melville Saayman of the research unit TREES (Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society) at the North-West University.

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

Travelers were confronted with longer flights, delayed flights whilst further travel complications in this region abound. In addition there is an increasing nationalistic shift in Europe. In the USA there is a raging debate regarding the use of laptops and other electronic devices on commercial flights. Need anything further be said about Donald Trump’s insistence on a travel ban.

The world is scared and those that traverse the globe the most, are amongst those the most affected.

“It cannot be overstated how severely the numerous terrorism attacks across the globe has affected the tourism sector. I suspect we will be seeing a paradigm shift in the tourism sector. We won’t be going where we usually went, we won’t use the same routes, we won’t visit what we used to adore. From music shows to restaurants have, all become targets. To reiterate, there is no bigger threat to tourism than terrorism,” Saayman said.

He went on to illustrate that it is not just the Middle East who are facing major consequences, 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. Bans such as the one imposed on Qatar and Qatar Airways serve as a warning device, a deterrent to countries who do not do enough to curtail terrorism within their borders. The speediness with which this ban happened opens the door for similar actions,” Saayman warned.

It is, however, a sad state of affairs.

“A ban like this is punishing the greater tourism industry and, more specifically, countries with a populace dependent on tourism. It’s like sanctions where you punish those people who deserves it least. In that regard we are playing into the terrorists hands.”


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