The tactic is fairly simple, it’s like a five-year old wrote it. Terrorists attack travelers => travelers stay away => tourist economy tanks => economic misery results in mayhem => mayhem enables terrorists to claim power.
Fail. It doesn’t work. Yet they keep trying.
A whole subset of modern terrorism so strongly believes in this tactic they’re willing to take lives and recklessly give their own. Think about the lunacy of that. It’s not like they’re trying to assassinate the president, or seize a military armory.
Say you’re a Tunisian dude in his early twenties who, for whatever reason, has embraced an evil fiction peddled to you by Satan’s acolytes. And you believe so strongly in this that you’ve betrayed your own religion and your people. But when game time finally comes, your benevolent leader asks you to do what?
“Okay, here’s the plan. You and four other brothers are going down to Bardo. When you get there, kill your fellow countryman who’s giving the tour while making three dollars a day. Then, find the elderly German couple off the cruise ship and kill them too. And just keep going. You’re gonna die. For sure. But this act will further our cause. It will help us win. Trust me brother. Would I lie? Go forth!”
And so they do. These bad guy leaders keep finding people willing to believe in this. So I guess this clearly shows the power of persuasion, a false cause, and the general propensity of the human race to believe in anything. Even if that thing is total nonsense.
It’s nonsense because it doesn’t work. Leave aside the brutality of murder, which is what this tactic is at its most base level. Simple murder. Let’s just accept that attacking tourism is a battlefield goal for lunatics. How’s that working out for them?
– Extremist nutcases have killed hundreds of tourists over the last two decades in Egypt. The country is also in political turmoil. Violence occurs on a daily basis. And? And tourist levels are once again approaching where they were at in 2007.
– Kenya’s been under assault for years by a bunch of guys who like to throw grenades into cafes. And so you hear Kenya’s tourism has tanked by half. This isn’t great, but consider that still means over a million people a year are visiting Kenya. So are over a million tourists visiting Kenya just because they like to cheat death? I’ll take the bet that in a few years, everybody’s going to be back.
– Whether it’s big earthquake waves, beach murders, military coups, elephant attack, or whatever, Thailand remains one of the big consistent threshers for tourists. And yet folks keep going. Numbers are three times larger than they were two decades ago.
Of course, there are limits. Now’s not a good time to go backpacking through Northern Nigeria. Or to explore Assyrian ruins in Syria. But these are exceptions. In five years, Tunisia’s tourist numbers are going to be bigger than they are today. I guarantee it.
As a traveler you can get worked over anywhere. In the news this morning you also got to hear that a polar bear mauled a dude on Svalbard. Bad things can happen. Anywhere. You can get killed in the car on the way to the airport. Regardless of where you travel, this is undoubtedly the most dangerous part of the journey.
But life also happens. And we humans are delightfully crazy. We’ll keep traveling to places. Even places that are dangerous. Or maybe because they are dangerous. Or simply because we’ve never been there before.
They can’t stop us. It’s who we are.
Ordinary Tunisians protesting murder and lunacy last night by the thousands; anytime, anywhere, they’ll be happy to welcome you to their beautiful country