Terror And Travel: Are Travel Agents Seeing Reduced Bookings?
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Paris, Brussels and Turkey are just some of the recent destinations where terrorist attacks have taken place. While some news outlets are reporting that tourism will suffer in these areas because of travelers’ fears, travel agents, on the other hand, say that it’s not stopping their customers.
“A few of my clients have changed destinations away from Paris as a reaction to the terrorist attacks there,” Kate Rosevear, Travel Leaders in Plymouth, Michigan. “However, they changed their plans within Europe. The same with one couple who changed plans to go to Scandinavia rather than the Mediterranean. But many of my clients are still booking France and the Mediterranean. We have booked as much France this year as we have ever booked.”
Rosevear also had a client with 10-year-old twins who was scheduled to go to London and France. They had considered canceling, and their insurance would’ve covered them, but they decided to go anyway. “They had a wonderful time,” she says. “The French were embracing them because they were there. There were no lines at attractions and they felt no fear.”
Nick Salmen at Remarkable Journeys in Minneapolis, Minnesota says that the impact of these attacks on his past and current bookings has been very small. “We book over 500 European vacations every year,” he explains. “When Paris was attacked last year, only two of our European trips were rescheduled. Both of those trips were to Paris and were rescheduled later in the year.”
Days after the Paris attack, two of his agents were in France with over 3,500 travel agents for an international conference on tourism. “The subject of terrorism impacting all of our lives and the travel industry was top of mind and conversation and there were very few reports of canceled trips due to terrorism,” he says.
Rosevear says that she’s had some tour operators cancel trips because they said numbers were low. To handle the cancellation, she would just book her clients on a similar itinerary with another tour operator. “I am taking a group to Scandinavia, flying in and out of Copenhagen; they don’t seem phased,” she said. “Some of them say ‘I am not going to let them tell me I can’t travel.’ There might be some people who are avoiding Europe, but they might not be booking anywhere as a result, and thus we will not hear from them. People don’t come to us and say ‘Hey, I was thinking about traveling, but now I’m not.’ We’d only hear from those looking to change their plans, and there really has not been a lot.”
Wally Jones from Travel Leaders in Phoenix, Arizona is currently working on a trip to Europe for one of his clients and says that he sees no changes either. “I haven’t had anybody specifically tell me they want to go to other destinations to avoid Europe,” he said. “I do have some clients that were looking to do a Mediterranean cruise, but decided they’d like to avoid that area. However, they are considering a cruise in other parts of Europe since they do want to travel.”
Eric Grayson of Discovery 7 Travel sums it up by saying that bad things can happen anywhere. “I find most of my clients don't think twice about it,” he said. “Most of my clients live in New York and none of them left or stopped flying after 9/11.”
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