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Traveling to Paris with a Message to Masses

Published: 03/12/2015 - Filed under: Home » News »

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The news from French tourism marketers this week at an Atout France press luncheon in Los Angeles was all too clear: Paris is alive and well, full of love, and open for business.

“State of emergency does not mean the city has shut down. It just means there will be a few more police and military on the streets and more complications at the border areas,” said Atout France representative Marion Fourestier.  But countrywide, France is far from coming to a screeching halt. New hotels are opening, exhibits and museum attractions are launching on schedule and the travelers are coming – possibly not as in force as they could be but few, if any, travel agents are reporting active cancellations.

The facts are these: terrorism continues to rise with more than 32,000 people killed in such attacks in 2014 – the highest number on record – and mostly at the hands of two target groups: Boko Haram and ISIL.

But here are some facts as well. Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria account for nearly 80% of all deaths at the hands of terrorists in 2014. And pairing deaths by acts of terrorism and deaths by homicide globally, terrorism loses by a landslide. Some 13 times as many people died as a result of homicide than as a result of terror attacks last year.

The numbers for 2015 will no doubt be daunting and move the needle on at statistic that has seen a steady rise each year since 1989. However, attacks in focus remain concentrated in countries with a variety of factors leading to unstable governments and splintering populations movements while in the west, the majority of deaths (only 0.5% of deaths from terrorism have occurred in the West since 2000 – excluding September 11 and with that event, the percentage rises to 2.6) occur as acts by a lone wolf or pack. That means that it is political extremism, not Islamic fundamentalism, that makes up the main driver of terrorism in Western countries.

As for Paris, the news could not have been worse or more shattering for the City of Lights -- easily the number one tourism destination in the world. France received some 84 million foreign visitors last year, and travel and tourism industry accounts for nearly 9 percent of the country’s economy.

And while the short term shocks to the country’s tourism industry have been predicted and experienced, the country is already rebounding and expected to join the ranks of fellow European icons, such as Madrid, bombed in 2004, and London, hit in 2005, in miraculous bounce-backs.

Generally, it takes tourism 13 months to recover from a terrorist attack, according to a study from the World Travel and Tourism Council. However, as the tourism council looked at the numbers that came in from Madrid, it found the Spanish capital recovered in just weeks to the visitor numbers it was seeing before the bombing. As for London, the explosions actually had no marked impact on tourism arrivals at all in the U.K.

Perhaps the best defense is the active offense – to travel in the face of fear and not let terrorism win. 

By Lark Gould

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