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Effect of Terrorism on Tourist Destination Choices

Info: 14769 words (59 pages) Dissertation
Published: 13th Dec 2019

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Tagged: TourismTravel and TourismTerrorism

The effect of whether a location has suffered terrorism, an individual’s fear of terrorism, and their faith background, upon intention to travel to a tourist destination.


The occurrence of disastrous events in tourist destinations are unavoidable regardless of tourists choosing to avoid destinations associated with risk. A serious tourism crisis, usually but not always, follows terrorism and is viewed as a disaster for a destination. It was therefore examined whether the assumptions of the Protection Motivation Theory and the Extended Parallel Process Model can explain individual behavioural responses to travel and fear of terrorism. This study considers the impact that terrorism has on an individual’s intention to travel to certain destinations, whilst manipulating the level of terror at two specific destinations, Paris and Berlin, and if an individual’s level of fear influences their decision. A sample of 80 university students were tested with use of A Fear Response of Travel Scale to measure participant’s responses. Protection Motivation Theory (Rogers, 1975) and Extended Parallel Process Model (Witte, 1994) have the potential to explain fear of terrorism to a certain degree. The results concluded that an individual’s intentions to travel are altered by the level of terror threat. However, there was no significant difference was found between the levels of fear an individual had and if one would choose to travel to a destination with a high or low terror threat. In addition, the study found no significance between faith beliefs and travel choice. From this study, it was established that other factors, such as psychological factors and their own personal level of basic safety can have an impact on an individual’s intention to travel.

The effect of whether a location has suffered terrorism, an individual’s fear of terrorism, and their faith background, upon intention to travel to a tourist destination.

Tourism is considered as an important industry in most countries (Altindag, 2004). The ability to travel safely around the world for enjoyment is a fairly recent phenomenon. Only around 3.5% of the world’s population participate in international travel (Bianchi, 2006). Tourism is one of the largest economies for some countries; more than 50 countries rely on tourism as an important revenue stream in foreign exchange, such as the Maldives and Macau (Lennon & O’Leary, 2005).

A growing body of literature has proven the negative impacts on travel and tourism due to extraneous events, such as levels of crime and violence at a destination (Shiebler, Crotts, & Hollinger 1996), war (Ryan 1991), political instability (Gartner & Shen 1992), terrorism (Richter & Waugh 1986) and natural disaster (Milo & Yoder 1991). These events contribute to affecting tourists’ images of destinations, therefore leading to a decrease in visitors. Moreover, travellers do not want negative incidents such as faulty adventure equipment, events that are cancelled, or problems associated with food quantity or quality to affect their travels (Kozak, Crotts, & Law, 2007).  Even though all the negative events are not specifically directed at the tourism industry or tourists, they do influence international travel flows.

When travelling to a destination for personal reasons, leisure or business, the place being visited would be given consideration prior to agreeing to participate in travel with regards to negative emotions or feelings about travelling there. For example, if someone had to travel by plane, they may have a fear of flying (aviophobia). Rothbaum, Hodges, Smith, Lee and Price (2000) had a sample population of 49 participants who all met the current diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.; DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) who had aviophobia to take part. Participants expressed how their aviophobia prevented them travelling by plane. Participants were separated into different groups and underwent therapies to overcome their fear of flying. By 6 months’ post treatment, participants who underwent therapy had flown on a plane.

Moreover, if a destination has recently experienced a severe terror attack and is on a high terror threat, an individual’s fear may be high and thus, prevent them from travelling. Once these aspects have been addressed, decision and travel plans may be altered. This can be supported by Johnson, Hershey, Meszaros and Kunreuther (1993) who asked subjects to imagine that they were planning a flight to London, and were given the option to purchase flight insurance. Subjects were willing to pay more for insurance against death from ‘any act of terrorism’ than ‘any non-terrorism related mechanical failure’ or ‘any reason’. However, one could expect, ‘any reason’, to be equal value, if not more, as it includes terrorism and non-terrorism incidents. An explanation for this unusual result is that the word “terrorism” conjures vivid images of disaster, and implies how emotional judgements can cloud clear cognitive processing and probability judgements.

Terrorism is a difficult subject to analyse. Tourism has been affected considerably since the 9/11 terror attacks in America in September 2001. “The increasing number of terrorist attacks has become one of the predominant external threats to international travel, and the tourism industry must realise that terrorism is now an integrated risk of modern travel” (O’Connor, Stafford, & Gallagher, 2008). Due to this, several important adaptive behavioural changes occurred following an increased terror threat. Huddy, Feldman, Capelos and Provost (2002) found delays and cancellations in air travel plans, the use of public transport reduced and places visited were restricted for holidays. Results found that 26% of people delayed holiday plans and 18% reduced their frequent travels into Manhattan.

Further research has shown a fall in tourism following a terrorist attack. Wahab (1996) found a result of 43% decrease in tourism in Egypt following a terrorist attack in 1992. However, this decrease could have been due to other factors, such as natural disasters occurring. An earthquake also occurred and could be a contributing factor to the fall in tourism in Egypt. Moreover, in 1985, an estimated 28 million Americans went abroad; of these, 162 injured or killed due to a terrorist incident. As a result of this, around 2 million Americans altered their international travel plans in 1986 due to anxiety and safety concerns, despite the fact that the probability of American tourists being victimised by terrorism was less than .00057% (Edgell, 1990; East, West 1986). This result implies how individuals use emotional judgements when considering safety risks when travelling, rather than rational judgements; Tversky and Kahneman (1980) researched how uncertainty and risks affect causal reasoning in judgements.

Kozak, Crotts and Law (2007) investigated if difference is evident in the perception of risky places and the impact of perceived risk on the tendency to travel internationally. Their sample consisted of 1180 international travellers visiting Hong Kong. The participants were invited to take part in a survey whilst departing a flight. The survey consisted of a series of questions and participants were given three types of risks: ‘an infectious disease’, ‘a terrorist attack’, and ‘a natural disaster’. They were asked to indicate the extent to which they would alter their travel plans if such a risk occurred in their preferred choice of destination. The responses were measured using a Likert Scale. The results concluded that many travellers are likely to alter their travel plans to a specific destination with high risk equate to 83.8%, with the minority who are less likely to alter travel plans at 16.2%. The overall results of this study explain how international travellers are sensitive towards the possibility of risks within their chosen destinations. Moreover, results found that travellers with various national cultures view perceived risks differently.

Furthermore, Reisinger and Mavondo (2005), conducted a study involving 246 Australian and 336 foreign participants. They intended to establish the relationships among the psychographic factors, being their attitudes and values on cultural, anxiety, travel risk perception, safety perception and intentions to travel. The findings were compared across the two groups of participants. Reisinger and Mavondo (2005) concluded that terrorism and sociocultural risk was the most significant predictors of travel anxiety. This shows that travellers consider terrorism as the most significant factor to change their travel intentions.

Sonmez and Graefe (1998) analysed the influences of past international travel experiences, the overall degree of safety felt whilst travelling, and types of risks with an association with travel. The Protection Motivation Theory and Information Integration Theory were used within this study as the theoretical basis (Rogers, 1975; Anderson, 1981). The study consisted of sending 500 international travellers a mail survey and received a high response rate of 48%. The results found by the researchers indicated that previous travel experiences to a specific destination increases the likelihood of intending to travel again, whilst also decreases the intention to avoid specifically risky destinations.

Drakos and Kutan (2003) studied the effects of terrorism on tourism in Turkey, Greece, and Israel using monthly data from January 1996 to December 1999. Monthly data on the number of the tourist’s visits, had 120 data points for each country. With the use of a regression model, Drakos and Kutan found a negative effect on tourism due to terrorism. Moreover, there is evidence of regional displacement, with people visiting neighbouring areas; more terrorist attacks in Israel was associated with an increase in tourist visitors to Greece. Drakos and Kutan also find that the intensity of terrorist attacks affect tourist decisions.

When choosing a destination, the risk and safety levels have an impact on the probability of international travellers to visit such places that are perceived as under threat. For example, people perceiving terrorism as a risk of travelling are very likely to avoid certain destinations such as the Middle East. Travellers may view Africa as a destination that is not safe due to the health risks. Moreover, Africa and Asia are perceived to be worse than other destinations due the poor quality of life and lack of necessities, e.g. food and water (Kozak, Crotts, & Law, 2007). Bianchi also agrees that “tourists are particularly susceptible to perceived security threats related to crime, political instability and violence, health risks, and natural disasters” (2006).

Lennon and O’Leary (2005) have also assessed the impact of terrorism on the travel industry. It was concluded the objective of the terror attacks are to initiate fear by threatening individual’s safety and security. This, therefore, leads to negative outcomes within tourism. When deciding about a holiday, individuals are most likely to visit safe destinations. Furthermore, travel suggests a relaxing and enjoyable time for individual, whereas terrorism enhances feelings of fear and panic. Gillham (2011), described the aims of terrorist attacks, these being to force issues and problems for others.

Few have experienced terrorism at first hand; many people know terrorism on a second-hand basis portrayed in the media. According to Comer, Furr, Beidas, Weiner and Kendall (2008, p.568) “technological advances and new trends in mass media provide a stage unlike any in history, a stage from which terrorist acts and threats can reach a truly wide audience”. Broadcasting corporations and media seek to gain high audience ratings and high circulation, and therefore tend to exaggerate and show emotional pictures to their audience. Consequently, a huge amount of TV exposure is associated with developing distorted perceptions of the world, wherein life is perceived as more dangerous and threatening than reality (Comer et al, 2008). There is a social theory known as The Cultivation Theory by Gerbner, Gross and Signorielli (1986), that considers the long-term effects of television. “The primary proposition of cultivation theory states that the more time people spend ‘living’ in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality portrayed on television.” (Cohen & Weimann 2000). Within the media today, terror attacks have become more personalised to viewers, due to the detailed coverage of the aftermath and highlighting awareness of future terror attacks. Therefore, it is not surprising that an increase in anxiety is shown due to the continuous portrayals of terror and violence.

Another aspect of research, reveals that people do not always estimate the risk of occurrences rationally. It is suggested that, emotions and biases influence risk perceptions and consequences of threats. A series of studies provides support for this principle in decision under both risk and uncertainty, whilst also showing that people are less sensitive to uncertainty than to risk. Regardless of whether the perceived threat is estimated realistically or not, emotions, behaviour and feelings are contributing factors that influence the perception of threat and fear.

Fear of terrorism may be understood as an instinctive response to the actual threat, as it has a lot of negative consequences. There are several theories outlining human thoughts and cognitive processes that are applied in many studies and interventions. These theories are The Protection Motivation theory (PMT, Rogers 1975) and The Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM, Witte 1994) that can explain why people engage in changes of behaviour when presented with threat and fear.

The Protection Motivation Theory (PMT, Rogers 1975) directs and maintains protective behaviours, and suggests why individuals persist in avoidant or unhealthy behaviours. As well as protective behaviours. PMT can therefore be used in explaining health related issues and safety concerns; for example, travellers consider the terror threat at their intended destination. PMT was developed to understand the impact of fear appeals (Conner & Norman, 2005). Fear appeal is a method of communication about danger and threat which suggests various ways to reduce or avoid the threat (Milne, Sheeran & Orbell, 2000). One of the main assumptions of PMT is that if information causes fear then an individual will be driven to reduce these negative feelings (Conner & Norman, 2005). For this assumption to work, it is vital that the information presented does contain advice with the ability to reduce the fear. However, if this is not the case then maladaptive behaviour such as avoidance can be used as a way of reducing fear, for example, travellers may avoid visiting certain destinations where the level of terror threat is high.

Rogers proposed three main variables to explain the concept of fear appeal. These were: perception of severity (for example how severe an individual thinks the terror threat is); perception of vulnerability (for example how likely an individual believes a terror attack will affect them); perception of response self-efficacy which would be the intention to travel to a destination. These three variables can influence protection motivation, which means an individual has the intention to follow behavioural advice, or the intention to implement protective behaviour (Helmes, 2002).

However, this model implies that an individual will adhere to the advice given. Therefore, Rogers developed that within the PMT model there are two independent appraisal processes, which are either internal or external information: threat appraisal and coping appraisal. Threat appraisal focuses on factors and threats that influence the maladaptive response, for example, avoidance. These factors initiate maladaptive response and encourage individuals to act on protective behaviours. The level between coping and maladaptive response is based on which one elicits a bigger fear, the fear of being a victim of a terror attack, or fear of missing a holiday. Per Orbell, Perugini, and Rakow (2004), there are personal differences that influence individual’s focus on the present or long term implications, which need to be considered. These differences further stress the importance of individual or group tailored interventions.

Alternatively, the coping appraisal focuses on the coping response; for example, avoiding a destination with high terror threat and factors influencing it. These ideas are known as the response efficacy and belief that an individual can accomplish this behaviour which is self-efficacy. Protection motivation will be evident if an individual is facing a terror threat perceiving severity and vulnerability which are more than the rewards of maladaptive behaviour.

The advantages of PMT are recognition of self-efficacy and more so, the possibility of maladaptive response, how it can be changed, and why it occurs. PMT also clearly describes what the information contains for it to have an effect. However, other environmental and cognitive variables may be an important factor of attitude change, such as, personal life experiences. PMT doesn’t specify all the possible factors in a fear appeal.

Furthermore, The Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM, Witte, 1994) also relies on threat and coping beliefs, yet additionally accounts for fear control. Also, it explains the occurrence of no response, as well as danger control, which is protective behavioural change. Firstly, the perceived susceptibility and severity are assessed in the threat appraisal. If one of these two threat-related estimates are low or non-existent, EPPM predicts that no response will be given. On the other hand, when the threat appraisal results in high estimates of susceptibility and severity, the coping appraisal takes place next. Response efficacy and self- efficacy are evaluated within the coping appraisal. When estimates are high, the efficacy beliefs are compared to the threat beliefs in the coping appraisal; whereas, when estimates are low or non-existent, the coping appraisal leads to fear control, which can result in anger or denial. When efficacy beliefs are lower than threat beliefs, EPPM predicts a fear control response due to the lack of efficacy beliefs. If the perceived efficacy is higher than the threat beliefs, the response of danger control is assumed to occur to reduce the potential risk one is faced with. Overall, the behavioural responses activate from increased threat perceptions, only when efficacy beliefs are high. On the other hand, if efficacy beliefs are reduced, an individual will avoid risk and take control of their feelings of fear and anxiety. For example, individuals would avoid travelling to Paris if it is perceived as a high terror threat. This was evident following the terror attacks in Paris in 2015, as Doggett and Dolmadjian (2016), found a 20% drop in visitors in the past year. However, with EPPM, it is hard to measure the emotion of fear separately from the intellectual assessment of threat. Moreover, researchers have argued that fear appeals can backfire in numerous ways. Researchers believe that ethical implications can rise by presenting frightening messages and images to individuals that can cause stress and affect their health.

Therefore, PMT and EPPM share similar qualities. The crucial factor of these theories is the threat appraisal and the coping appraisal. However, there are also differences between the two. EPPM predicts not only danger control, referring to the motivation to engage in protective behavioural changes, but also fear control and no response because of varying degrees of threat and coping beliefs. Whereas, on the other hand, PMT predicts protective behavioural changes because of strong coping beliefs when faced with threat beliefs. In relation to travel, an individual may decide to alter their travel plans if a problem has arisen in their current destination choice. This could be risk relating to health, terrorism or natural disasters. However, if they have the belief they can cope with the threat, then their travel plans will remain unaltered.

The Present Study

From the aforementioned research, it is clear that there are various risks related to dips on travel; PMT and EPPM are two theories clearly explaining why this can occur. Both PMT and EPPM can explain why individuals may adapt and engage in different behaviours. A vast amount of research has been conducted concerning travel plans following terrorist attacks. Moreover, previous research has only tested correlations, rather than examined the issue experimentally. This means that an experiment can predict causation, whereas a correlation can only predict a relationship. However, within an experimental study, it is not certain that all extraneous variables are controlled, such as life experiences, health and mood of participants. Therefore, this gap in the literature results in an ample opportunity to create a study in this topic. This study will investigate the risk and travel intention experimentally, with specific reference to certain destinations, Paris and Berlin, whilst also manipulating the terror threat level and terrorist acts across destinations. A Fear Response of Travel Scale is used to measure participant’s intentions to travel, and fear levels about travelling to a given destination regardless of the threat level.It is predicted that the intention to travel to a destination is associated with a location history in terms of actual terrorist events, individual’s fear of terrorism and if faith background is associated with perceived terrorism threat connected with a given location.



There were 55 female participants and 25 male participants aged between 18 and 58 years (M = 23.16; S.D = 7.26). Participants (n=80) were opportunistically recruited from the University of Hertfordshire using the SONA research participation system from a variety of courses.  Participant’s religions were also considered with 30% being Christian, closely followed by 21% with no religion, Hindu 15%, Jewish 13%, Muslim 11% and 10% with a non-specified faith.


This study used a between subject design. The independent variables were the specific destination manipulated on two levels – whether high or low levels of threat were present; and an individual’s fear of terrorism and an individual’s faith background. The dependent variables were the intention of the individual to travel to a destination, and risk perception. To measure this, a Fear Response of Travel Scale (Appendix D) was used and adapted from Baird’s (2013) thesis testing Perceptions and Motivations for Travel to California’s Central Coast. The first hypothesis states: Intention (or risk perception) to travel to a destination is associated with a location history in terms of actual terrorist events. It is expected that participant’s responses will show that the history of a destination is likely to influence their travel plans and influence travel decisions. It is further predicted that the intention to travel to a destination is associated with an individual’s fear of terrorism. Therefore, the intention to travel will be significantly lower in high fear compared to low fear. It is likely a participant with high fear would choose to travel to a destination with a low terror threat. The last hypothesis is: Faith background is associated with perceived terrorism threat connected with a given location.


An information sheet (Appendix A) was used which indicated the study’s purpose and participant’s rights. On the information sheet participants were presented with a false title to cloak the main purpose of the study, this being: “The relationship between a location’s history, and a person’s background, and whether they intend to travel to a given location.” The materials also consisted of an information pack about two specific locations: Paris and Berlin (Appendix C). The information pack contained a brochure, facts and figures and a newspaper article of both destinations. The newspaper article discussed the issue of terrorism within the destination, or a neutral topic. For example, one article was based on the massacre in Paris, and one of general news in Paris.

The newspaper articles were manipulated across participants. Some participants were shown terrorism in one destination and neutral in the other, and some were shown the opposite. The facts and figures would also relate to the article, through stating whether Paris or Berlin was in a high or low state of threat.When Paris was presented as a high terror threat, a participant would receive an article about terrorism, and the facts and figures would state Paris was in a state of high terror:“Paris is on a high state or terrorist alert”. On the other hand, when Paris is in a state of low terror, it would be stated on the facts and figures information and presented with an article unrelated to terrorism. This was also the same across the Berlin information. The Fear Response of Travel Scale consisted of demographic questions for participants to complete, such as age and religion. The questionnaire consisted of a series of questions on what influences someone from participating in travel, and what prevents them from travelling, for example:

Questions that influence someone to travel:

  • The desirability of the destination location
  • The price of the trip
  • To discover more about the destination
  • The recommendations of my family and friends
  • The language spoken at the destination
  • How the location has been portrayed in the media

Questions that would prevent someone to travel:

  • Fear of flying
  • Potential health risks, e.g. travel sickness, illnesses and diseases
  • Perception of crime at a destination
  • Feeling vulnerable through cultural differences
  • The current threat level at a destination
  • Recent terrorist attacks at a destination

The scale was measured using a 5 point Likert scale with participants circling their level of agreement with a scale of strongly agree to strongly disagree. Lastly, questions were asked regarding the two given locations and the information pack participants had just seen as manipulation checks. The questions asked were:

  • “One of the newspaper articles shown to you related to terrorism, please circle which destination this was about”
  • “One of the newspaper articles was about Paris and the other Berlin, which do you remember more vividly”
  • “Is Paris a low or high state of terrorist alert?”
  •  “Is Berlin in a low or high state of terrorist alert?”

Principal component analysis (PCA) was conducted to investigate if the series of questions influencing someone to travel are correlated to one another. PCA can emphasis strong patterns within a set of items. The six reasons to travel statements were subjected to principal component analysis using SPSS. Prior to performing PCA, the suitability of data for factor analysis was assessed. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin value was .50. PCA revealed the presence of two components with eigenvalues exceeding 1 explaining 27% and 20 % of the variance respectively. The first component is composed of three items and the second factor is composed of two items. After an inspection of the scree plot (Appendix F), it was decided to retain three items for further investigation. The three items that are related are ‘the desirability of the destination location’, ‘the price of the trip’ and ‘to discover more about the destination’.  A Cronbach’s Alpha confirmed good internal reliability for these three items together of a=0.51. Nunnaly (1978) has supported that lower alpha numbers can be acceptable and lower thresholds are sometimes used in literature and are accepted when only a few components are being tested.

The seven fear of travel statements were also subjected to PCA using SPSS to investigate if a strong correlation was evident across the items. Prior to performing PCA, the suitability of data for factor analysis was assessed. The Kaiser -Meyer-Olkin value was .75, exceeding the recommended value of .6 (Kaiser 1970) and Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity was significant supporting the factorability of the correlation matrix.

Principal component analysis revealed the presence of one component with an eigenvalue exceeding 1, explaining 39% of the variance which consisted of five items. After an inspection of the scree plot (Appendix G), it showed how one factor was highly related to five other items and therefore it was decided to retain five items. These five items that are related are ‘potential health risks’, ‘perception of crime at a destination’, ‘feeling vulnerable through cultural differences’, ‘the current threat level at a destination’ and ‘recent terrorist attacks at a destination’. These items have an overall link to one another when individuals decide where and when to travel. A Cronbach’s Alpha confirmed good internal reliability for these five items of a=77.

Manipulation checks

To determine whether the terror threat manipulation had an impact on participants as expected, participants were asked a series of questions within The Fear Response of Travel Scale. The questions designed were to evaluate whether participants were able to correctly recall the information that was presented to them. A binomial sign test indicated that when asked to state which newspaper article was about terrorism, 72 participants were correctly aware and this number is significant, to eight participants who didn’t (p=.001). Moreover, when participants were asked if Paris or Berlin were in a low or high state of threat, 67 participants were also able to recall this significantly compared to 13 who recalled this information incorrectly (p=.001).

Manipulation Check 1:

Manipulation Check 2:

Manipulation Check 3:

Remarkably, a high proportion of participants did retain the information presented, implying the manipulation of the terrorism articles and threat state were successful. Most the participants correctly answered the manipulation checks.


The study was advertised on the University of Hertfordshire’s SONA system for First and Second Year Psychology students to sign up. Participants would sign up to a specific time slot and attend the study at their allocated time in the allocated room. They would first be presented with an information sheet (Appendix A), followed by a consent form (Appendix B). These forms focused on participant’s right to withdraw from the study at any point. Once the forms were completed, an information pack was presented, containing information on two specific destinations: Paris and Berlin. Once participants had assessed these materials, a Fear Response of Travel Scale was to be completed. Following this the participants were provided with a debrief sheet (Appendix E). At the end of the study the true title and purpose of the study was revealed. Participants were then thanked for their contribution. The overall time to complete the study was 20 minutes.


A total of 80 participants took part in the study to establish whether there was an influence on the intention to travel dependent on terrorist threat and attacks.  To identify the differences in travelling to a destination with high or low terrorist threat, a chi-square analysis test was conducted. This was to establish whether individuals chose to go to either Paris or Berlin when presented with a high or low state of terror threat, the individual’s state of fear of terrorism and if their faith impacted their decisions.

Table 1: Berlin threat against participants chosen destination.

Table 2: Paris threat against participants chosen destination.

In tables 1 and 2, the data portrays how participants chose to travel to a destination with a low terror threat. When Berlin was presented as a high terror alert destination, only 11 participants chose to travel there, compared to 29 participants who avoided this by going to Paris, which was presented as the low threat destination. Moreover, when Berlin was presented as a low terror threat and Paris a high terror threat, only 15 participants chose to go to Paris compared to 25 participants who preferred to travel to Berlin, which was presented as the low terror threat destination.

Table 4:  Chosen threat against destination choice.

In table 4 above, a chi-square test of independence was performed to examine the relation between travelling to Paris and Berlin and terrorism. An analysis revealed no significant association between terrorism and the destinations, X2 (1, N = 80) = .38, p= .74. Therefore, the effect for threat is not affected by whether the location is Paris or Berlin.

A binomial test was conducted to test whether threat affects travel intention to Paris 15 – 29. The results show that this data was significant when choosing a high or low threat, p =0.013. Moreover, the data said presented for Berlin was also subjected to a binomial test for 11 – 25 and showed to be significant, p =.008. Finally, the overall total was subjected to a binomial test to discover whether threat affects travel intention without reference to a specific destination and was shown to be significant, p=.001.

The first hypothesis stated: Intention to travel to a destination is associated with a location history in terms of actual terrorist events. It was expected that participant’s responses would show that the history is likely to influence their travel plans. This hypothesis can therefore be retained as this pattern was evident. Participants chose to travel to a destination with low terrorism and avoided a destination with high terrorism and terror threat.

Table 5: Fear levels against threat level choices at the destination.

A fear total was calculated from the participant’s responses to a series of statements asking what would prevent them from travelling, such asFeeling vulnerable through cultural differences”, and “The current threat level at a destination”. The total scores were then divided at the 50th percentile to define if a participant presented with high or low fear.

As can be seen from table 5, 29 participants who have high fear chose to go to the destination with a low terror threat, suggesting that the terror threat influenced their judgement. Moreover 25 participants with low fear would also choose to travel to a low threat destination. Furthermore, 15 participants presented with high fear surprisingly chose a high threat destination, whereas only 11 participants with low fear chose a high threat destination. The data was subjected to a chi-square analysis and shows the frequencies that were present were not significantly different from each other. X2 (1, N=80) =.38, p=.74.

The hypothesis predicted that intention to travel to a destination is associated with an individual’s fear of terrorism. It was expected that participants with high fear would avoid travelling to a destination with high terror threat. However, this hypothesis can be rejected as it is not significantly associated with whether somebody is willing to go to a destination with high or low terror threat.

Table 6: Shows individual’s faith beliefs and the effect on their fear levels.

In table 6, the data shows how participants who follow a faith tend to have higher fear (34 participants), compared to only 10 participants who don’t associate with a faith have high fear. Moreover, 29 participants who follow a faith have low fear compared to 7 participants who have no association with faith who also have low fear.

Table 7: Shows whether faith beliefs has an influence on a chosen destination.

In table 7 above, a chi-square test of independence was performed to examine if an individual who follows a faith or has no faith influenced their choice of destination and level threat. An analysis revealed no significant association between faith beliefs and destination choice, X2 (1, N = 80) = .10, p= .56.

Table 8:  Shows the descriptive statistics for the interaction between specific religions and fear levels against their choice of destination.

Table 8 above, shows a two-way between-groups analysis of variance which was conducted to explore if an individual’s specific faith and fear level effected their intention to travel. The interaction effect between faith and fear was not statistically significant, F (5, 68) = 2.01, p = .11. The main effect for religion was also not significant, F (5, 68) = 0.54, p = .07. The main effect for fear, F (1, 68) = 0.69, p = .45 did not reach statistical significance.

Lastly, it was predicted that faith background is associated with a given location depending on the threat levels chosen. This interaction was not statistically significant and is therefore rejected.


The study conducted has shown a statistical significance between individual’s intention to travel and terrorism, regardless of the location. However, surprisingly, no statistical significance was found between an individuals’ level of fear and terrorism, or if faith background has an influence on travel and terrorism. As a result of this, only one of the hypotheses was proven correct.  

In this study, the level of threat at a destination and intention to travel proved to be related, as the results showed a significance. As Protection Motivation Theory (Rogers, 1975) and Extended Parallel Process Model (Witte, 1994) both suggest that an individual would behave in a certain manner when presented with a threat, individuals would act upon this and alter their decisions. This was evident as participants would choose a destination with low terror threat which is an example of an avoidant behaviour. This is supported by Rittichainuwat and Chakraborty (2006), who identified tourists’ concerns about travel risks, if decisions were altered due to risk and if terrorism impacted on Thailand visitors. The researchers found, that participants would choose to alter their destination choice instead of cancelling their plans. Moreover, participants would choose to travel to a less dangerous destination than one with high terror threat. This is in accordance with the results found in the study above.

Rubin, Brewin, Greenberg, Simpson and Wessely (2005), further supported that an individual will alter their intentions to travel when presented with threat. Following the bombings in London in 2005, they assessed the impact of stress and the intention to travel on 1010 participants. Interviews were conducted and results found that 31% of participants presented with high levels of stress as well as 32% who has a decrease in intention to travel. Moreover, participants reported a reduced intention to use public transport as well. However, only 12 participants felt they needed further assistance with the emotional response they experienced after the attack. This study further supports the results found in the study as intention to travel is discouraged when presented with threat. This is also in conjunction with the assumptions of PMT and EPPM.

In addition, McKercher and Hui (2004), conducted surveys in Hong Kong to discover individuals intentions to travel. This was conducted after the September 11th terrorist attacks and therefore enabled the immediate impact to be analysed. McKercher and Hui, found that individual’s intentions to travel were tremendously reduced. Furthermore, individuals altered their travel plans, vacationed for shorter periods of time and focused more on their safety when travelling. This matches the results found in the study conducted, how individuals are affected when threat and fear is presented.

Per Lee and Lemyre (2009), suggest higher coping-efficacy is related to worry, as well as individual preparedness. This is in accordance with PMT and EPPM as this has adapted as a protective function of coping beliefs. Moreover, per Dunkel (2009), explains how high self-esteem is associated with reduced anxiety, assuming self-esteem is a concept with a relationship with self-efficacy. This is therefore also supportive of PMT and EPPM. Therefore, PMT and EPPM can explain an individual’s intention to travel and terrorism, which is found in this study.

As PMT and EPPM and their assumptions are not in sufficiently met  in this study, their power of clarifying individual’s reasoning is incomplete. More research is therefore needed to further enlighten the factors contributing to the fear of terrorism. Thus, it is essential that these theories should be investigated to determine if they need to be expanded or adjusted to be applicable to fear of terrorism and intentions to travel.

As PMT and EPPM has not supported individual’s level of fear, Todd, Wilson and Casey (2005) suggested that internal locus of control, the extent to which one attributes control over oneself, can influence an individual as it can affect their level of fear and external locus of control. If a traveller believes to be responsible for a threat but has no way to reduce the threat, the individual’s fear levels will increase and can therefore cloud their rational judgement. A traveller may substitute their choice of destination if they believe they are unable to reduce the threat, and therefore would avoid it completely. Overall, this implies that emotions play a vital role in risk and decisions. Shoshani & Slone (2008), supported this and found a relationship between emotional measures, anxiety and anger. Individuals with high emotions are consistent with high negative attitudes which can cause high emotional judgements rather than rational ones.

On the other hand, other theories, such as the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB; Ajzen, 1985) can be effective in explaining an individual’s level of fear and intention to travel. According to TPB, attitudes towards a certain behaviour and perceived behavioural control and subjective norm, create an intention to partake in a given behaviour. Accordingly, it is worthy to examine the applicability of TPB to an individual’s level of fear of terrorism in future research. 

In addition, when an act of terror occurs, it is suggested that the objective is to elevate fear by reducing safety and security. Maslow’s (1954) “Hierarchy of Needs” portrays the order of needs individuals must achieve for self-fulfilment. O’Connor, Stafford and Gallagher (2008), found Maslow’s theory and the intention to travel are linked to one another. It is implied that the need for basic safety abroad must be met before the need of self-fulfilment can be satisfied though travelling.

Maslow’s (1954) “Hierarchy of Needs” can also explain the lack of level of fear from participants. The level of threat may not have been strong enough to raise questions about the individual’s safety and therefore individuals did not feel threatened to influence their choice of destination. Furthermore, Gudykunst and Hammer’s (1988) anxiety/ risk-reduction management theory suggests that when an individual’s risk and anxiety are high, they will likely partake in travelling to an environment which is safe as opposed to an environment that is unsafe that they would withdraw from. When an individual’s risk and anxiety are low, an individual would accept the conditions and make the correct adjustments as they see fit. Thus, when anxiety levels are increased, perception of safety is affected and therefore intentions to travel decrease.

The hypothesis predicted that faith background will show an association between terrorism threat and a given location. However, this finding was not supported and therefore rejected. This could have been as a result of the low sample of participants within each faith group. However, Delener (1990), investigated different aspects of the relationship between religion and perceived risk. The research found that religion contributes to perceived risk when an individual makes decisions. Delener (1990) stated “This attitude perhaps relates to the tendency of highly religious individuals to be less secure and self -confident than less religious individuals”. The study consisted of 349 participants and focused on Catholics and Jews. Delener (1990) found that Catholics showed higher sensitivity to a potential negative consequence in their decisions. Perhaps a more in depth analysis of the participant’s religious background could have resulted in a more reliable outcome.

After analysing the insignificant results and the methods used, it was suggested that there could have been several methodological explanations to why the results were not significant, such as  

an insufficient number of participants. The study conducted only consisted of 80 participants. Moreover, to conduct an experiment to test faith backgrounds a larger sample of each religion would have enhanced the results. This is since not enough participants with the same faith were found; for example, the lowest faith group only consisted of eight participants. Perhaps if the sample size had been significantly larger, the results could have been statistically significant.

An additional explanation for insignificant results could be because individuals have their own interests and preferences. Tourists may be attracted to countries for different reasons. Some countries may have historic sights and some may have beaches with tropical weather. Therefore, the effect of terrorism on tourism would be better analysed if the countries presented to the participants share similar attractions for tourists.

Furthermore, it must be noted that the study conducted only looked at Paris and Berlin. It is therefore unclear if the results apply to other destinations as well.  These countries were picked because of recent terrorist attacks. These attacks attracted very high international media attention, such that exposure of the events were available to a high audience. It was assumed that the recent attacks would have had an influence on individual’s intention to travel. However, the information used may have lacked sufficient, strong, influential information for the participants to be influenced by the terror threat at both destinations. This may be the case in the above study, as research has found that frequent acts of terrorism have caused a steep decline in tourist arrivals (Pizam & Fleischer 2002). The researchers focused on travel to Israel in the period of May 1991 through May 2001. Depending on the regularity and severity of the attacks, the tourism demand will continue to vary.

In addition, psychological factors need to be considered to assist with understanding tourist reactions to risk. For example, individuals who are adventurous and confident will participate in activities with higher risk. However, if the risk reaches a point that an individual is unable to tolerate, they would participate less and reduce their involvement in the activity (Dowling & Staelin 1994). This notion highlights how personality can contribute in understanding the level of perception of risk associated with tourism, the level of travel anxiety and the risk acceptance level (Roehl & Fesenmaier 1992).

When researchers first began to look at fear appeal, it was questioned how much threat needed to be revealed, and what is too much or too little. Janis and Feshbach (1953), concluded that too little threat did not have very much effect on an individual to change their attitudes, whereas negative effects were evident following too much threat. Janis and Feshback (1953), recommended that the fear appeal should deliver just enough threat causing enough motivation for an action to occur, without too much threat to cause psychological issues.  Perhaps in this study, too little threat was promoted due to the information being insufficient to persuade individuals to take any action.

However, a strength of the study was the outcome of the manipulation checks. Although the study was an artificial method, it was shown that participants paid attention to the information that was intended, and they did do so correctly. This was evident from the responses participants gave to recognising the terror or non-terror article and if a high or low state of terror alert was present. Moreover, participants were asked, “What influenced your choice of destination”, and were given the chance to write their response. Participant’s responses were; “Paris looks like a beautiful place to visit and it is on a lower terror alert than Berlin”, “There are more terrorist attacks in Berlin” – this participant chose to travel to Paris. Both responses from participants is evidence showing how the information pack presented did have an impact on participant’s intention to travel.

The effect terrorism has on tourism is a vital topic today that warrants future research.One suggestion for future research would be to replicate this study, focusing on different countries than the ones mentioned. Perhaps countries with more frequent and severe terror attacks would produce a more reliable outcome. Additionally, another suggestion for further research would be to test these relationships on another sample of participants. The participants used were university students, with a large proportion at a young age. Further research could look at participants in different age groups to investigate the differences between different generations. Lastly, a clear defined and formulated scale may be able to enhance the reliable outcomes of the study.


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Appendix A – The Information Sheet


“The relationship between a location’s history, and a person’s background, and whether they intend to travel to a given location.”

  Introduction: Hello my name is **** and I am inviting you to take part in a research study which I am undertaking as part of my studies at the University of Hertfordshire.  Before you decide whether to do so, it is important that you understand the research that is being done and what your involvement will include.  Please take the time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish.  Do not hesitate to ask me anything that is not clear or for any further information you would like to help you make your decision.  Please do take your time to decide whether or not you wish to take part.  Thank you for reading this.

What is the purpose of this study?

The study is designed to estimate your impressions of two equally interesting locations. To help me do this, you will be shown two short information packs about two destinations, and you will be asked which you would prefer to travel to and a number of other questions.

 Your rights: It is completely up to you whether or not you decide to take part in this study.  If you do decide to take part you will be given this information sheet to keep and be asked to sign a consent form.  Agreeing to join the study does not mean that you have to complete it.  You are free to withdraw at any stage without giving a reason.  A decision to withdraw at any time, or a decision not to take part at all, will not affect you in any way. If you decide to take part in this study, you will be involved for approximately 20 minutes.

 What will happen to me if I take part? Firstly, you will be asked to fill in some demographic questions such as your age and gender and religion. After this you will be shown two packs of information about holiday destinations. This will include a promotional brochure, some real news clippings, and some facts and figures about each. Following this you will be asked to complete a questionnaire about each location, what you have seen in the packs, and your thoughts on what affects your decisions to travel.

 What are the possible disadvantages, risks or side effects of taking part? There are no known possible disadvantages, risks or side effects if you were to partake in this study.

 What are the possible benefits of taking part? There are no known possible benefits of taking part in this study, but we hope to interest you in the results of the study which could possibly be insightful. 

 How will my taking part in this study be kept confidential? Your identity will remain anonymous at all times.The data you provide will only be accessible to the research team involved. All data including personal details will remain stored on a password protected computer. Your data will solely be used for the purposes of the study. However please be aware that if you say anything that threatens your own safety or that of others, this will need to be reported to the programme coordinator.

 What will happen to the results of the research study? The data you provide will be used in a write up for my project as part of my degree.

 This research has been reviewed by the ECDA (a University of Hertfordshire ethics committee) and has protocol number LMS/UG/UH/02566.  

 If you would like further information or questions of me, or would like to discuss any details personally, please contact *** at ****or my supervisor at the University of Hertfordshire******.

 Many Thanks

 Although we hope it is not the case, if you have any complaints or concerns about any aspect of the way you have been approached or treated during the course of this study, please write to the University Secretary and Registrar.

Thank you very much for reading this information and giving consideration to taking part in my study.

Appendix B – Consent Form



I, the undersigned [please give your name here, in BLOCK CAPITALS]


of [please give contact details here, sufficient to enable the investigator to get in touch with you, such as a postal or email address]


hereby freely agree to take part in the study entitled.

‘“The relationship between a location’s history, and a person’s background, and whether they intend to travel to a given location.”

1 I confirm that I have been given a Participant Information Sheet (a copy of which is attached to this form) giving of the study, including its aim(s), methods and design, the names and contact details of key people and, as appropriate, the risks and potential benefits, how the information collected will be stored and for how long, and any plans for follow-up studies that might involve further approaches to participants.  I have also been informed of how my personal information on this form will be stored and for how long.  I have been given details of my involvement in the study.  I have been told that in the event of any significant change to the aim(s) or design of the study I will be informed, and asked to renew my consent to participate in it.

2 I have been assured that I may withdraw from the study at any time without disadvantage or having to give a reason.

3 I have been given information about the risks of my suffering harm or adverse effects.  

4 I have been told how information relating to me (data obtained during the study, and data provided by me about myself) will be handled: how it will be kept secure, who will have access to it, and how it will or may be used. 

5 I have been told the limits of confidentiality in this case, and that should I reveal anything that threatens my own safety or that of others, this will be reported to the programme coordinator.

6 I have been told that I may at some time in the future be contacted again about this or another study.

This study has been reviewed by the University of Hertfordshire ethics committee (EDCA), and is protocol number LMS/UG/UH/02566.

Signature of participant…………………………………….…Date…………………………

Signature of (principal) investigator………………………………………………………Date…………………………

Name of (principal) investigator


Appendix C – The Information Pack

Each participant will be given the following three items about each destination in their information pack

Appendix D – The Fear Response of Travel Scale

Travel Questionnaire

Please fill in your details below. This will be kept completely confidential and will only be used for further analysis of data.

If you would prefer to leave any questions in this questionnaire blank, please do so.

Age: ___________________________

Gender: Male / Female

Occupation: ___________________________

Subject(s) studied/studying at university: ___________________________

Religion: ___________________________

Please Circle:

Which destination would you choose:  

                       Paris     Berlin

How would you travel to your chosen destination?

                Car    Bus   Train   Plane   Other

What influenced your choice of destination: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Please rate your level of agreement with the following statements about what influences you from participating in travel to a destination:

a. The desirability of the destination location

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

b. The price of the trip

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

c. To discover more about the destination

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

d. The recommendations of my family and friends

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

e. The language spoken at the destination

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

f. How the location has been portrayed in the media

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

g. Other factors (please explain in no more than two sentences or leave blank) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Please rate your level of agreement with the following statements about what prevents you from participating in travel to a destination:

  1. Fear of flying

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

  • The price of a trip

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

  • Potential health risks, e.g. travel sickness, illnesses and diseases

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

  • Perception of crime at a destination

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

  • Feeling vulnerable through cultural differences

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

  • The current threat level at a destination

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

  • Recent terrorist attacks at a destination

Strongly Disagree      Disagree     Neutral     Agree   Strongly Agree

Please answer the following:

 One of the newspaper articles shown to you related to terrorism, please circle which destination this was about:

Paris                Berlin

One of the newspaper articles was about Paris and the other Berlin, which do you remember more vividly:

Paris                Berlin

Is Paris a low or high state of terrorist alert?

High                Low

Is Berlin in a low or high state of terrorist alert?

High                Low

Thank you for your participation!

 Appendix E –  The Debrief Sheet

‘The effect of whether a location has suffered terrorism, an individual’s fear of terrorism, and their faith background, upon intention to travel to a tourist destination’

 (UH ethics protocol number LMS/UG/UH/02566)

The study you have just participated in is designed to examine the impact of terrorism on a holiday destination and the intention to travel there. There was no right or wrong answer. You may have chosen one destination over another for a number of different reasons. Whatever you decided it is important to keep in mind that there is no correct answer.

I was interested to see if the threat level had an impact on your travel decisions.

Whatever your reasons for choosing one holiday destination over another, please also bear in mind that many will share your views, for any one of a number of reasons and no individual’s reactions are being judged by the researcher in this study. It was your personal opinion that mattered…whatever that happens to be this is respected, and I am just grateful that you gave it.

 I was also interested in whether previous experience in a recruitment setting affects candidate preferences. As it happens neither of the two candidates presented to you have a criminal conviction in reality, the materials you have seen today were created for the purposes of this study and are entirely fictitious. The faces you saw were those of volunteers who have agreed to share their images for the purposes of research exercises.

 Please remember that all of your answers to the questionnaire are completely anonymous and stored in a secure location.

 If you have felt uncomfortable or distressed at any time during this study please do not hesitate to inform the investigator: ** with any of your concerns. Please also remember you have the right to withdraw you data from this study at any time up to the completion of the study.

The researcher will also be happy to disclose the findings of the study once these are analyzed and supply you with a summary upon request.

If you have concerns, or questions about this research, please feel free to contact me for any further details: at*****

Thank you once again for your help

Appendix F – Scree Plot of the PCA for the reasons to travel statements.

Appendix H – SPSS Raw Data

Appendix I – Ethics Approval Notification

Appendix J –  A copy of the Risk Assessment form.

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