Following clashes between police and supporters of Maldives’ President Mohamed Nasheed back in February, I wondered with trepidation if my dream honeymoon in the Maldives would be crushed by the political unrest in Male! Once demonstrations had turned violent and news broke of clashes spreading to outlying islands, I pictured myself spending my honeymoon at home, or (if we were hell bent on going) ducking bullets.
Our honeymoon was booked at Club Med Kani, a small island in the Maldives not far from the main island. Although guests staying at the resort during this time were unaffected, I was still concerned and mulled over the idea of changing honeymoon destinations.
Luckily, after only a few short weeks, the dust settled in Male and our honeymoon remained unscathed, but it didn’t stop me from thinking how political outbursts and threats of a similar nature can affect a traveller’s decision to travel.
Remember 9/11, when a series of terrorist attacks struck lower Manhattan in New York City, causing worldwide concern? The destruction of the twin towers had a significant impact on the global markets and both domestic and international travel to New York decreased drastically. Concerns of more attacks on the ‘Big Apple’ erupted and the worldwide leisure and travel population for some time avoided booking travel to the city.
Egypt is another example of how political instability can damage a country’s tourism industry. In February 2011, a reported 80% of US travellers cancelled travel plans to Egypt, and airlines were quick to cancel services between Egypt and the US. Tour operators mostly from Europe also refrained from booking travel to the region.
What about the effects of a financial crisis on travel? While Greece’s economy is falling, are more or less tourists visiting Greece? The financial crisis has also caused inadvertent protests due to job losses and salary cuts. Are these outbursts causing travellers distress? It wouldn’t seem so, according to a recent article I read online. Aside from the German’s, Greece has seen an uptake in travel since 2011, and travel is in fact encouraged due to increased affordability. Many hotel and bed & breakfast outlets have cut costs to encourage traffic into their establishments. Furthermore, should the drachma make a return, the exchange rate would then be dictated by currency markets and the drachma would immediately fall sharply, meaning prices on the ground will be cheaper for travellers.
My advice to would-be travellers would be this: Be prepared when you travel, have an understanding of what is going on in other countries and be sure that should you have any concerns about your destination you enquire at your travel agent or the incumbent embassy. While I was aware of the protests in Male, I monitored the media every day so that I was kept up to speed on the latest developments. Thank goodness for that, or otherwise I might just have cancelled the honeymoon of my dreams!