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Tourism In Post-Crisis Is Tourism In Pre-Crisis: A Review Of The Literature On Crisis Management In Tourism

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Tourism in Post-Crisis is Tourism in Pre-Crisis: A Review of the Literature on Crisis Management in Tourism

2006-1

Dr Christof Pforr

Curtin University of Technology

School of Management

Working Paper Series

2006-1

Tourism in Post-Crisis is Tourism in Pre-Crisis:

A Review of the Literature on Crisis

Management in Tourism

Dr Christof Pforr

Curtin University of Technology

School of Management

GPO Box U1987

Perth WA 6845

Australia

Tourism in Post-Crisis is Tourism in Pre-Crisis: A Review of the Literature on Crisis Management in Tourism

ABSTRACT

In the light of the 2006 terrorist bombings in Egypt and Mumbai or in London in July and on Bali in October of the previous year, 'crisis in tourism' appears again to be a timely topic. So, is it then just the frequency of these negative events, which has brought 'crisis' to the front pages and also to the forefront of our minds? As it is not a new phenomenon, has only our perception changed? Tourism seems to be particularly susceptible to negative events and, since there is always a crisis somewhere in the world, the industry appears to be under an almost permanent threat with the certainty of yet another crisis already looming somewhere.

A more systematic and conceptional approach to questions such as how tourism businesses react to crisis, which measures are taken and what impact they have, if and how businesses can prepare for such crisis situations and which strategies can be employed to overcome them, has therefore been long overdue. In this context, the paper aims to explore the literature on crisis management in tourism and to identify foci of the current academic discourse.

KEYWORDS

Crisis management, tourism

INTRODUCTION

In the light of the 2006 terrorist bombings in Egypt and Mumbai or in London in July 2005 during the European peak holiday season and again on Bali in October of the same year, 'crisis in tourism' appears yet again to be a timely topic. The spectrum of recent crises impacting on the tourism and hospitality industry is large, ranging from terrorism attacks in Madrid (2004), Jakarta (2003), Bali (2002) and the 'September 11 attacks' (2001), natural disasters such as the Boxing Day Tsunami affecting large parts of coastal South East Asia in 2004 (Sharpley 2005), bush fires in Australia's capital Canberra (2002) as well as the Asian economic crisis in 1997 to health-related threats such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and bird flu epidemics in South East Asia (in 2003 / 2004), but also the foot and mouth outbreak in Britain in 2001 (Leslie & Black 2006; Irvine & Anderson 2006; Coles, 2004; Frisby, 2002), which severely impacted on tourist mobility.

From these negative events a pattern of tourist behaviour has emerged suggesting that an increase in perceived risk associated with a destination is reciprocal to its demand (Floyed et al., 2004). However, McKercher & Hui (2004: 102) emphasise that '[f]ortunately, most tourists have relatively short memories and will resume travelling when they feel the immediate threat has passed. As a result, history suggests that disasters tend to have no lasting impact on tourist flows.' So, is it then just the frequency of these negative events, which has brought 'crisis' to the front pages and also to the forefront of our minds? As it is not a new phenomenon, has only our perception changed?

Tourism seems to be particularly susceptible to negative events and, since there is always a crisis somewhere in the world, the industry appears to be under an almost permanent threat with the certainty of yet another crisis already looming somewhere. McKercher & Hui (2004: 101) point out that crises are inevitable, 'episodic events that disrupt the tourism and hospitality industry on a regular basis' and Coles (2004: 178) adds 'when not in crisis, destinations are in an extended programme of practically pre-event-limbo, almost waiting for the important trigger event to take place'.

The enormous growth tourism has experienced in the past 50 years, also as a consequence of technological advancements in transportations, which brought the world's many destinations, no matter how far, within reach, has resulted in a much stronger interconnectedness and complexity within the tourism system and made the industry in many regions around the world an important factor in their socio-economic development. With tourism now being 'big business' based on more than one billion international tourists any crisis will have a much stronger negative impact compared to the past and will affect a much larger part of the population. Moreover, the negative consequences of crises for the tourism and hospitality industry are often felt in destinations far away from where they have taken place. In the context of SARS Hall et al. (2004: 2), for instance, argue that it 'was not only spread internationally through modern aviation services but also resulted in a number of countries issuing travel warnings regarding travel to some destinations in East-Asia and health security measures at their own boarders.'

It is therefore no surprise that a greater sensitivity and concern for the topic has become evident. There is an obvious need and demand 'on the ground' for guidance and strategies to deal with crises in the tourism and hospitality industry. 'Given the sensitivity of the tourism industry and its strong reliance on

Pforr 1

Tourism in Post-Crisis is Tourism in Pre-Crisis: A Review of the Literature on Crisis Management in Tourism

perceptions of safety, security and stability', Gurtner (2005: 197) points out that, 'the prospective remuneration on effective crisis management has made it a topical issue amongst relevant authorities and stakeholders.' A more systematic and conceptional approach to questions such as how tourism businesses react to crisis, which measures are taken and what impact they have, if and how businesses can prepare for such crisis situations

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