After the Bombs - How Terrorism has Affected Travellers
London, United Kingdom
In 2001, the Western world was turned on its head with the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. It was the first such terrorist attack many of us had witnessed and it left the world stunned that such an atrocity had taken place on US soil - the self proclaimed, land of the free.
At the time, it was thought that the terrorists responsible were specifically targeting America and it’s citizens, and in places like Australia, New Zealand and Britain, life returned to normal in the belief that “it would never happen to us.”
What followed was a series of similar but cowardly attacks on western culture that proved that the terrorists were not only targeting Americans.
Australia and Australians had been specifically named by international terrorist groups and the car bomb at the Sari club in Bali on 12 October 2002 and explosions outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta on 9 September 2004 proved that no country or nationality is safe from terrorist attacks.
This point was struck home even more so on the 7th of July 2005 when the world stopped and watched as three London trains and a bus were blown up by suicide bombers, leaving over fifty people dead.
For many antipodeans travelling in Europe, London is usually the first stop on the itinerary, however after the 7/7 attacks and the follow up attempts on 21/7, itineraries have changed. Travelling to another country has now become a risk.
25 year old Erica Mansfield from Perth in Western Australia lives in London and has travelled to over 17 countries. Erica was present in London during the bombings of 7/7 and maintains that the threat of terrorism has not and will not deter her from future travel.
“These days terrorism is everywhere and at the end of the day you can’t let the ‘threat of terrorism’ prevent you from living your life. If you want to see the world then you just have to put those thoughts to the back of your mind and enjoy your travelling experiences to the full because you never know what is going to happen whether you are on holiday abroad or on your way to work.”
Brian Lindsay, 31 from Cape Town in South Africa was also in London during the bombs. Having been to over 30 countries, Brian says common sense is the key, “You can’t let these people get the better of you. Go where you want to go and just be aware of your surroundings. Obviously you’ve got to use your common sense in regards to where is safe to go and where is not.”
On her first major travelling experience overseas, 25 year old Lisa Tavener from Sydney, Australia was close to not one but two terrorist attacks but has no plans to cut her travels short because of it.
“I was in Egypt when the Red Sea bombings were on and I used the tube in London the week after the bombings.”
“There have been some people who I have met in my travels that have either cut holidays short or just are avoiding some places. There are so many beautiful countries and people to see that we cant let the minority deter us from this.”
“The London attacks have proved that it can happen anywhere, even in your own backyard.”
“If we stop travelling they win, and we live in fear.”
The numbers of international travellers, specifically by air plummeted directly after the September 11 attacks in NY and the London Tourist board has reported a drop in numbers of visitors to the capital following 7/7. So, has terrorism changed the world’s perception of travel?
“I think it has. Previously terrorist attacks were things you saw on the news and were usually in Middle Eastern countries.” Said Miss Mansfield.
“Now that there have been attacks in New York, Madrid and London, I think people will be wearier of travelling to a foreign country.”
“The threat of terrorism takes away people’s sense of safety and security on a day to day basis and people like to feel secure. Who doesn’t?”
Lisa Tavener agreed but encouraged travellers to stick it out and be brave.
“I think that it definitely will change how people think about travel, I guess I worry about it changing the day to day life as we know it.”
“Sometimes you will just be in the wrong place at the wrong time and that’s unfortunate but millions of people travel every year without incident and you just can’t let it stop you.”
Johanna Norvill (24) from Cambridge in New Zealand was defiant in changing her travelling lifestyle to suit terrorists.
“Sure, there is always a worry about when or where the next hit going to strike. But you get over it.”
“The chances of something happening to you are pretty minimal, I mean 8.5 million people use the public transport system of London every day.”
“On the plus side, when a place does get hit, take Egypt for example, holiday packages are dirt cheap and you know you won’t have to compete with crowds when you get there.”
As the younger generation sets off to see the world, parental-pressure from back home intensifies, however mum and dad no longer have much say in where and when their kids travel once they are on the road.
Lisa Tavener has had grief from her mother on more than one occasion, “They weren’t impressed about Egypt and didn’t want me to travel overseas at all to be honest, they definitely don’t want me using the tube or buses in London. It won’t stop me but it just shows how people can be affect by events on the other side of the globe.”
Brian’s parents are a bit more relaxed back in South Africa.
“I speak to my family usually once a week and while they are concerned for my well-being, I’m under no pressure not to go any specific location.”
“I haven’t had much pressure from back home really,” said Erica. “My parents realise I am young and that I want to travel so as long as they know I am being precocious, I think they are fine with it.”
Just as London returned to normal, the travel industry appears to have settled down after yet another terrorist attack and the young backpackers and tourists of this world are showing their defiance in the face of terrorist threats.
Londoner, Joanne Loftus gave this advice to anyone thinking about changing their travelling plans because of the threat of terrorism.
“Don’t let them beat you. Life is for living and you must do what you want to do. You could walk out of your house and get run over by a bus but that doesn’t stop you from leaving your house so don’t let these people stop you from doing what you want and going where you want to go.”
While the majority of visits abroad are trouble-free, it is always sensible to check the Travel section of your country’s embassy website before planning a trip overseas.