Europe has experienced a devastating increase in terrorist attacks in recent years, including such savage, highly-publicized onslaughts as the 2015 attack in Paris, which left 130 people dead, and the 2016 attack in Brussels, which killed 32. Certainly this must mean that it’s not a good time to take that European vacation you’ve been planning. But despite such violence and uncertainty, it turns out that European tourism is not only thriving as usual, but the industry is actually growing.
A Pivotal Year for Europe
In recent years, Europe has seen a number of destabilizing changes, including the recent Brexit vote, the debt crisis, the current refugee crisis, and of course, an increase in terrorism. Given this turbulent climate, 2017 is going to be a pivotal year for Europe and its tourism industry.
Making the situation worse, the US State Department has issued a travel alert for Europe due to the recent increase in terrorist attacks. The travel alert is very specific in its warning to American tourists, making it clear that “extremists continue to focus on tourist locations… hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events… remain priority locations for possible attacks.”
But despite all manner of grim prognostication, the European tourism industry is doing better than ever.
European Tourism in 2017
This year has been a dramatic success for European tourism. Almost every country for which the European Travel Commission has data has shown an increase in tourist arrivals in 2017, including such dramatic figures as a 51% increase in Iceland and a 25% increase in Montenegro, with tourist arrivals to the continent as a whole projected to increase 4.1% in 2017.
Even the UK, which has seen four highly publicized attacks so far this year, is expecting a 12% increase in arrivals during July and August.
What’s Going On
One big reason for the increase in tourism is that a relatively weak Euro and an especially weak British Pound mean travelling to Europe is more affordable than usual. But, despite the discount, you’re probably thinking that taking a cheap vacation isn’t worth the risk of being affected by a terrorist attack. Well, the truth is that the danger posed by terrorism in Europe is still very mild. The US State Department puts out travel alerts all the time, and they’re really just a way to keep US citizens informed. In fact, the US State Department has put out four travel alerts for Europe in the last year alone. Furthermore, the alert applies to the entire continent which means the odds are incredibly low that a supposed terrorist attack will happen wherever you happen to be during your vacation. As John Gobbels, Vice President and COO of Medjet, a company that offers travel medical, security, and crisis response memberships, says, “we are much more likely to suffer a sudden illness or have an accident while traveling abroad than being the victim of a terrorist attack.”
So basically, don’t worry too much. A vacation to Europe in 2017 is still a very safe and even affordable option, and, luckily for the European economy, more tourists than ever are taking advantage.