PHOTO: London at night. (Photo via Flickr/Pedro Szekely)
A few days ago, 52-year-old Khalid Masood killed three people when he drove a car into pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge. He then fatally stabbed a policeman at the Parliament before police shot him dead. It was 82 seconds of terror in the city of London.
Are tourists now skittish about traveling to The Big Smoke? Some are definitely reconsidering their plans, while others aren’t letting anything stop them.
Travel agent Joanne Parker was helping two couples with prices for their trip to London, but after the attacks, they changed their minds. “I personally do not blame them, but it can happen anywhere, at any time. We cannot let them win and hide away from life. It can happen at the local grocery store.”
The terrorist attacks in London have Margie Lenau’s clients nervous. “I have not booked a vacation to London in a while, although Europe is not out of the question nor is Ireland,” said Lenau of Wonderland Family Vacations. “My clients tend to want to stay away from London and wait and see what will happen.”
Paul Wiseman, President at Trafalgar, said that the incident hasn't shown up in any waning interest:
"The sentiment of strength in the face of adversity is absolute and we have had no negative reaction whatsoever from our agents, from our customers booked to travel or our customers in the UK at this time. We have had fantastic positive booking days all of this week and from what we can see there has been zero impact for Britain which I have relayed to the Visit Britain office in New York today."
"On our current trajectory, which this week’s news has not changed, 2017 will be the best booking year for a decade which in turn has allowed us to guarantee every single departure for summer Europe including all trips in and out of London."
Greg Antonelle said that the events in London are a terrible tragedy, but it has become all too familiar. “While this was an unthinkable terrorist attack, people have become very resilient in how they react to such tragedies,” said Antonelle, managing director of Mickey Travels LLC. “American tourists have been able to recover quickly from the initial shock and have not let these events affect when, and if, they will travel to these locales.”
None of Greg Geronemus’ clients have changed their bookings to England so far. “The impact of the terrorist event in London—and, for that matter, Brussels, France and Europe in the past—is undeniable and meaningful, although we remain positively encouraged by the resilience of the American traveler and our summer bookings,” said Geronemus, the co-CEO of smarTours. “As with Paris and Brussels before, there may be some who will either think twice or cancel their trips to London. But so far the bookings for our England tour are unchanged.”
He admits that terrorism is not keeping Americans at home, but it’s simply causing some Americans to consider other regions of Europe. “We are seeing some very strong demand for Scandinavia from our travelers. It's seen as one of the safe havens within Europe -- a way for the American traveler to satisfy its desire for Europe without nearly as much concern about terrorism or the migrant crisis.”
There is also a noticeable shift in travel and booking activity towards Asia and Africa. “Although I would be remiss not to point out that Europe has not fallen completely out of favor,” he said. “I think our travelers understand that a terrorist strike could just as easily happen in the United States as Europe. Most still want to travel and believe that they will be safe, and have a great experience by going and not staying home.”
Heather Travis, from Globe Getaways, felt bad telling her client, who was supposed to travel to London, about what was happening. “I felt so bad telling her about these incidents that had happened just in the same neighborhood as where she had planned on staying for the next eight nights,” said Travis. “She was grateful to have been informed and expected to tell her traveling companion and get back to me about their decision. She assumed they would still go. I never did hear back from her, so I expect she is romping around London doing all the exciting things she had planned, or at least all the things she's permitted to do.”
We will continue to monitor the effect that these terrorist attacks have had on future travel trends.