Tourism, Terrorism, Morality, and Marketing: A Study of the Role of Reciprocity in Tourism Marketing

Tourism, Terrorism, Morality, and Marketing: A Study of the Role of Reciprocity in Tourism Marketing

Peter Tarlow (Texas A&M University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9761-4.ch014
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Abstract

A short time after the January 2015 Paris attacks, the city was quiet, perhaps too quiet. Associated press reporters noted that the tourists have simply gone. In a mid –January news article by Thomas Adamson perhaps summed up the situation best when it stated: “Among the tourists who were still braving visits, many took comfort in the extra security presences. With 10,000 troops deployed across the country including 6,000 in the Paris region alone, the security operation put in motion after the attacks is the most extensive in French soil in recent history The (Bryan Texas) Eagle, page A-3, January 19, 2015). The dearth of tourists however was short lived, as the French were able to assure the world that they had taken full control of the situation, employed some ten thousand troops to sensitive locales, and have given the impression that the terrorist attacks were an anomaly. The terrorism attacks in many parts of Europe remind us that terrorism is as much about purposeful negative marketing as it is about death and destruction.
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Introduction

Just a few weeks after the Al Qaeda attacks against a Paris magazine and a kosher supermarket, the world read of the terrorist attacks against a major hotel in Libya. Once again, terrorism touched the world or tourism and once again, the world was reminded that tourism presents terrorists with not only soft targets, but it also provides terrorist with a great deal of publicity. From the terrorists’ perspective we may call this form of publicity, “purposeful negative marketing” (PNM). A few weeks later, Copenhagen, Denmark saw almost a repeat performance. This time terrorist(s) attacked a café in the presence of the French Ambassador; a shooting at a local synagogue soon followed the attack. A short time after the attacks in Paris, the city was quiet, perhaps too quiet. Associated press reporters noted that tourists have simply disappeared. A mid –January news article by Thomas Adamson perhaps summed up the situation best when it stated: “Among the tourists who were still braving visits, many took comfort in the extra security presences. With 10,000 troops deployed across the country including 6,000 in the Paris region alone, the security operation put in motion after the attacks is the most extensive ion French soil in recent history The (Bryan Texas) Eagle, page A-3, January 19, 2015). The dearth of tourists however was short lived, as the French were able to assure the world that they had taken full control of the situation, employed some ten thousand troops to sensitive locales, and have given the impression that the terrorist attacks were an anomaly.

The terrorism attacks in many parts of Europe remind us that terrorism is as much about “purposeful negative marketing” as it is about death and destruction. It is of note that when Norbert Vanhove writes about detriments of tourism demand he mentions the following as noted by Middelton:

  • 1.

    Economic factors

  • 2.

    Comparative factors

  • 3.

    Demographic factors

  • 4.

    Geographic factors

  • 5.

    Socio-cultural factors

  • 6.

    Mobility

  • 7.

    Government/regulation

  • 8.

    Media communication

  • 9.

    Information and communication technology (Vanhove, 2005 pp50-51)

Vanhove does not list safety and security as a negative determent nor does he mention either of them in his work, despite the fact that tourism security was an issue in 2005, Vanhove takes the typical marketing approach that safety and security have nothing to do with tourism marketing (Vanhove, 2005).

Terrorism goes beyond violence. Terrorism produces fear and through fear seeks the destruction of economies and reputations, and as such, it is a major threat to the tourism industry. Perhaps it is for this reason that we cannot separate terrorism from tourism and tourism from marketing. To understand terrorism is to see it as a negative form of marketing. Instead of encouraging people to visit a place, terrorism seeks to discourage visitors. It seeks to empty hotel rooms and to transform the vibrant into the decadent. It creates xenophobia and a sense of mistrust and fear both of the foreign visitor and even the local citizen. Lewis and Chambers remind us that: “For the customer, perception is reality. The point is so critical that it is worth repeating: Perception is reality. Perhaps one of the greatest mistakes that we make as marketers is thinking that what we perceive is also what the customer perceives.” (Lewis & Chambers, 1988, p.139)

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