New research set to reveal similarities between terrorists and tourists

08/26/04

New research from the University of Warwick is set to reveal some striking similarities between the actions of groups of people who travel on flagship airlines, seemingly at random, between the major cities of the world. An ongoing research project into airlines and international tourism shows in many cases it is only motivation that distinguishes the terrorist from the tourist, and may be the cause of big headaches for the world's national carriers.

What's more failure to appreciate the fact that international terrorism and international tourism share as many similarities as they do differences would be a significant oversight.

Both tourism and terrorism involve citizens of different countries who visit internationally famous buildings, sites, hotels and shopping centres. Both tourists and terrorists frequently carry bags and back-packs, travel alone or in small groups, and the anonymity of both groups enables them to blend into their surroundings.

Further comparisons could also be made with other national carriers that operate across boarders. Cruise liners have been targeted in the past, and both Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel have potential added risks in their operational activities.

Research by Dr Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor of Warwick Business School in the UK, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, into the strategic management implications of global terrorism builds on previous research carried out into international tourism conducted within the industry. She is set to investigate whether global terrorism has an impact on organizational learning in international service organizations.

The study will also examine how international service organisations cope with managing under the conditions of ongoing uncertainty and ambiguity posed by terrorist activities, and the affect of terrorism and security policy on international tourism patterns and flows, in particular comparing US and UK practices.

Previous studies have noted the reluctance of business travelers to change their plans to travel to high risk destinations even in the light of adverse risk data emerging in the media. Non-business travelers behave in different ways, modifying their plans and destinations (Egypt suffered a 42% drop in tourism following terrorist attacks in 1992). For an airline that provides both business and leisure travel, these circumstances lead to complex planning and decision making.

This study will prove useful to government agencies and business organisations that are planning strategies in recognition of the changed international environment following 9-11.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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