In a Post-Brussels Europe, Visitors See Terror Around Every Corner As Tourism Drops Precipitously
The effects of the terror attacks in Brussels were immediate and noticeable. Virtually overnight, while Brussels was under lockdown, its populace and visitors were urged to avoid “unnecessary movement,” tourists disappeared from major spots in London, Paris, and particularly Brussels, as well as in other major European cities.
Until recent events unfolded, hotel occupancy in Europe was on the upswing, with a 2.3% year-over-year increase to 70.1% from 2014 to 2015, according to data from STR Global, a company that tracks such data.
Hotel occupancy rates plunged overnight. In Brussels, the night after the bombing, occupancy was at 25% compared to 82% the previous day. London and Paris saw significant declines as well, although nowhere as precipitous as in the Belgian capital.
For tourists, the bombings – several months ago in Paris and last week in Brussels – have done what billions of marketing euros were unable to accomplish: unify Europe as a concept. Many tourists see the European continent as a singular space where a terror attack could break out at any moment, much the way tourists in the 1970s viewed New York City as a destination where one could expect to be mugged during a visit.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning last Wednesday to Americans traveling to and in Europe, warning of the potential for “near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation.” The alert is slated to remain in place through June.
Brussels lowered its terror alert level last Friday to its second-highest level, and the United Kingdom lifted its travel warning that advised citizens not to travel to Brussels.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)