Geopolitical Turmoil’s Impact on the Tourism Industry
The Indirect Effects
Geopolitical turmoil impacts the tourism industry both directly and indirectly. While Texas is relatively unaffected by recent conflicts in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, and Russia, it is still susceptible to travel changes triggered by these events.
Economic insecurity, transportation disruptions, and traveler anxiety often cause declines in travel.
Geopolitical friction also increases visa restrictions. Recently this has affected travelers from countries such as China and Russia.
The U.S. State Department is known for long visa wait times and international travelers are choosing instead to travel to places that are less of a hassle. This affects international travelers coming to the U.S. and reduces their travel dollars in the U.S.
Political tensions also increase indirect threats including terror or cyber attacks, financial market instability, major attraction or event closings due to concerns of terrorism or civil unrest, and more.
Travel in the U.S.
The current war in Israel has begun to have a downstream impact on hotel demand, and while geographically distant, Americans are expressing concerns about visiting destinations in the U.S. during the turmoil.
*20% of U.S. adults said they have delayed, rescheduled, or canceled a travel booking as a direct result of the Israel-Hamas war. Whether their concerns are safety, civil unrest or cost, travel disruptions are impacting locations far beyond the Middle East. Of those who had changed trip plans, a plurality (41%) said that their trip was to take place within the United States.
The potential for the Israel-Hamas conflict to spread to neighboring countries is also a big concern. A broader involvement in the Middle East could trigger a surge in oil and gas prices and spike inflation affecting the overall tourism industry.
Stay on top of financial news and economic trends.
Security is a major concern during uncertain times. Review your security systems for any weaknesses including security cameras and security guards, smart locks, and other threat emergency protocols.
Cyber attacks are common during tumultuous times and hotels can be targets due to the volume of credit card information they manage. Most cyber security breaches are the result of human error. Make sure your staff is trained in spotting cyber threats and detecting phishing attempts.
Technology changes fast, and so do hackers. Keep your cyber security system updated.
Plan for all possible scenarios you can foresee, and prepare fluid models for the ones you can’t. Make sure you have a dynamic budget strategy with flexible operating models.
If your main customer base is connected heavily to a single major event space or theme park, for example Moody Colesium or Sea World, consider diversifying your market in the event of any threat-related closings.
Review the cost-cutting measures you developed to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, including cross-training your staff, embracing automation, and upgrading technology to prepare for any potential economic instability.
Industry analysts say they don’t expect the Israel-Hamas conflict, in its current form, to cause significant economic disruption, but all industries must stay vigilant as situations can change quickly.