The effect of a crisis in the tourism sector

Tourism sector

Any form of the crisis has a negative effect on the tourism sector of a country. There is a loss of revenue earned from the tourists, which is used for local development to benefit the citizens. Thus, the government of any country has to come up with strategies and proper communication tools to maneuver through the possible threat of any looming crisis. In most cases, the central government of a country forms a board that is responsible for the safety and communication of any security issues arising that pose a threat to the tourism sector. This is in agreement with the UNWTO (2017a), which states that every country should have an executive committee responsible for the risk management in key areas of the economy (UNWTO, 2016). It is, however, argued that for a proper understanding of the tourism disaster planning, there has to be a background understanding of the literature of the disaster as well as an analysis of the previous tourism disaster plans implemented. The move is referred to as narrative synthesis, which combines both the qualitative and quantitative data ( Martens, Feldezs and Merten, 2016). Several models on how to respond and make strategic plans in regards to disaster and crisis management have been proposed by various authors that exist in literature.

Murphy and Bayley were the first to come up with a four-stage model that included the assessment, warning, impact, and recovery phases. Faulkner also came up with a six-stage strategic and crisis management model. The model is divided into pre-event, prodromal, emergency, intermediate, long-term, and resolution. All these stages have their own processes and significance to give a desirable outcome. An analysis of these models shows that the initial stages include a series of events focusing on establishing the extent to which the disaster affected the tourism sector. The results from the assessment yield the final strategic model that’s should adapt to avoid re-occurrence of a similar scenario. In most cases, the six-phase steps are used to address crisis or recovery management (COMCEC COORDINATION OFFICE, 2017).

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In the pre-crisis stage: before the crisis occurs, the government works in conjunction with the private sector to come up with a risk management committee. A location is nominated as the crisis headquarters and a spokesperson nominated in the proderimal stage: where a possible threat has been identified. There is frequent communication as messages are issued to the public through the media. The crisis management plan is made operational and a center for inquiries from relatives established. In the emergency phase, people are safely evacuated back to their home country or a safer residence. Infrastructural repairs are done as well as the transfer of the non- essential employees. Regular updates are issued to the public as to how the events unfold. The private sector in this stage should be very honest with their customers who want to travel into the country, and they should advise them whether it is safe or not. The post-crisis phase: after the emergency phase. Damaged infrastructure is repaired to enable the business to operate normally. The government utilizes the monetary and fiscal policies, such as ta holidays, to reduce business costs as they recover and start all over again. Security measures as improved and the public and private sectors work hand in hand to get back on track. The post-crisis recovery: where the focus is on the long terms effects (Ritchie and walters, 2016). Changes are made within the tourism sector as well as investment conditions to the suite and cope with future disasters. The final stage is the resolution stage: where the evaluation of the short, medium, and long term measures are evaluated based on the results they yield. These measures are modified accordingly to tailor them based on the lessons learned from the crisis.

Stakeholders in the field also play a key role in building collaborative networks that enhance peace and security. A review of the statistics of the occurrence of crisis and disaster situations over the years has tremendously reduced. The reduction is in other controllable and human-induced crises such as terrorism and not the natural causes of crisis and disaster, which are beyond the control of humankind. Countries such as Japan have come up with infrastructure capable of withstanding natural disasters like earthquakes, which are frequent from adversely affecting the country. The measures undertaken nowadays are those that reduce the impact of the crisis and provide an easier way to recovery from the crisis. They also had to come up with traffic management plans as well as tsunami warning systems.

The media is the number one tool used to market as well as address and pass information regarding the tourism sector. In this era of social media, information spreads fast. People with influence on these platforms such as Instagram and Facebook give their reviews on how their visit to places and even countries have been will either negatively or positively affect the tourism in that country ( Sotiriadis, 2017). There are also article reviews on popular magazines on destinations that are considered high end and classy. The tourist organizations use these platforms for marketing themselves. Governments are even advised to have tourist advisories who guide tourists on the possible threats they tend to face when they decide to visit a particular country. Another tool for communication is through the traditional ways that are newspapers, television advertisements, and the use of the radio. This way, those not on the current social media platforms are targeted, and information effectively passed to them.

It is the responsibility of every tourism agency in a country to effectively educate the public on the current affairs and where they stand based on the situation. They need to be as transparent as possible to save lives. In every tourism system, the necessary resources, long- term view, and a balanced approach towards stakeholders are all in the public sector. However, the private sector, regional destination management organizations, as well as major companies, should have representatives in the tourism sector.



Evaluation of the proactive and reactive management strategies of crisis

For an effective crisis management plan, we first need to understand the meaning of a crisis and the different time periods it can be categorized into. These time periods include: potential crisis- assumed to might occur in the future though there is no clear certainty about it. A latent crisis is an already occurring crisis with no measurable negative influences yet. The final one is the acute crisis where it is already occurring, and there are perceivable and measurable negative influences. A crisis can either be temporal or functional. The functional aspect covers the organizations and institutions involved in making business management plans. The temporal aspect covers the reactive and active crisis management strategies. The active crisis management focuses on potential crises. Thus does not have a greater impact on immediate or current crises. The strategy is effective in potential crises as there is enough time to implement and execute the plan effectively when the need arises.

The strategy is further divided into crises precaution and crisis avoidance ( Ritchie and walters, 2016). The precautionary plans are done early so that when the crises occur, it will be easy to implement the plans. Possible causes include severe weather, which falls under the natural disaster category of tourism classes. The weather is one of the significant factors that tourists look at as they consider to travel. However, at times especially nowadays, the climate is unpredictable due to global warming; thus, sudden events are prone to happen with unexpected magnitude such as the Katrina hurricane. Thus, the government, in partnership with the private stakeholders in the tourism sector, should come up with plans such as infrastructure or a good drainage system that can sustain such weather. If not, they should be able to evacuate people during such time to safety in time. The proactive plan enables them to plan ahead of disaster, including setting aside a budget for the plan ready for use. Public relations are also another aspect that will become prone the tourism sector to come up with a proactive strategy ( kokemullar, 2018). No country wants to be termed as unsafe or risky to live in. Tourism is a means of revenue to the government, and bad publicity means reduced tourists into the country leading to reduced revenue; thus, reduced local development.

The planning of the proactive strategy involves identifying qualified professionals to work with as a team and assessing the level of impact externally and internally caused by the crises. You also appoint your spokesperson, who will be the main person relaying information as things progress. A follow-up process is necessary after that. There are several aspects to consider when making a proactive strategy based on the damage and causes of the crises to be.

Reactive crisis management is applied when dealing with latent crises. The reactive strategy focuses on the negative impact the crises have caused, and appropriate instruments put to measure. However, the stakeholders have first to agree on whether to react immediately when the crises are still in its early stages or wait until the strategy has further developed. Reacting immediately is effective because it reduces the huge negative impacts of the crises. Reactive crisis management requires ready resources in place that will be used to counter the crisis. Good communication between the different stakeholders in the tourism industry is mandatory as the aim of the reactive strategy is to reduce the extent of damage caused by the crises.

The official spokespersons appointed are expected to be giving transparent and honest messages regarding the progress of the crisis so that appropriate measures can be done to counter further damages. The reactive crisis management can further be divided into offensive and defensive. Handling the crisis in its early stages is termed as offensive, whereas waiting till it further progresses is termed as defensive. One of the reasons that might force the management team responsible for waiting until the crises progress is if reacting to it in its early stages will further intensify the situation.  However, waiting for the damage to progress reduces the trustfulness and credibility of the crisis management institutions.

Since we are dealing with an already occurring crisis, adequate information regarding the background and the expected damage by the crises is needed. The reason as to why professionals are required, so as to give the appropriate advice on what steps to take and what steps not tom take so as not to intensify the situation further. Reactive strategy tests the preparedness of a country and how effective and equipped it in to handle a disaster. Lessons learned from it will be used to modify the strategy to deal with the same situation in case it arises in the future. The committee in charge of the strategy should be people who are readily available and flexible to answer to the call of duty when called upon. An example of such a scenario where reactive strategy can be implemented is in the case of a fire break out in a hotel. There need to be fire extinguishers and fire sensor alarms within the vicinity. Fire exit point, as well as a readily available fire fighting team to extinguish the fire. The reactive method enables one to find the root cause of the problem as well as come up with various ways of tackling the problem.


Sotiriadis, M.D., 2017. Sharing tourism experiences in social media. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.


Ukpabi, D.C. and Karjaluoto, H., 2017. Consumers’ acceptance of information and communications technology in tourism: A review. Telematics and Informatics, 34(5), pp.618-644.


Mair, J., Ritchie, B.W. and Walters, G., 2016. Towards a research agenda for post-disaster and post-crisis recovery strategies for tourist destinations: A narrative review. Current Issues in Tourism, 19(1), pp.1-26.


Hanno Michail Martens, Kim Feldesz and Patrick Merten, 2016, crisis management in tourisms: a literature based on the proactive prediction of a crisis and the implementation of prevention measures [online] retrieved from file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/2016-3-2-1-Martens%20(1)%20(1).pdf   accessed 18 February 2020

UNWTO/GTERC 2016 Annual Report on Asia-Pacific Tourism Trends – 2016 Edition. Madrid: UN World Tourism Organization / Global Tourism Economy Research Centre

Neil kokemullar, 2018. Proactive vs reactive management: bizfluent. Retrieved from      accessed 18 february 2020

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