On May 25th, two explosions rocked a Jakarta bus terminal. Ctrip has responded by offering support to its customers in Indonesia. Three police officers were killed and six wounded. Five civilians were also injured. It is still unclear at this time who was responsible for the attack but officials suspect ISIS involvement. In past years, Indonesia has been the site of increased terrorist activity with another attack this past January. The Indonesian government announced last year that it hoped to attract 10 million Chinese tourists to Indonesia by 2019. Chinese tourism to the Southeast Asian nation experienced substantial growth in 2016, rising by 25% over 2015. However, these recent attacks may impede growth in the coming years and necessitate increased support on the part of booking companies.
While no tourists were injured or killed in this latest attack, Ctrip sent out an SMS to customers who had booked hotels in Indonesia and were already in country or planning to travel there soon. The company offered assistance to any travelers already in Indonesia. Ctrip also informed customers that it was monitoring the situation and would inform them in the event of a change in airline policy. Additionally, the travel booking company told customers that any hotel bookings with check-ins between May 24th and May 30th could be altered or cancelled.
With ISIS linked terrorist attacks increasing in recent years, security concerns for international travelers has had a dramatic impact on the flow tourists to both Asian and European destinations. Following the Paris attacks in November of 2015, Paris experienced a huge drop in Chinese tourists. In 2016 the number of Chinese tourists traveling to the Greater Paris Area dropped by 13.4% over 2015. Nonetheless, the number of Chinese tourists coming to Paris has recovered substantially in recent months. The recent attacks in Manchester may result in a similar temporary drop in Chinese tourists traveling to the United Kingdom. However, Euromonitor has forecasted that the attack will have a negligible effect on inbound tourism to the UK, downgrading its estimated growth in tourism to the UK this year to 4.9% from 5.1%.
Firms dealing with outbound Chinese tourists should expect that continued terrorist activity might put a damper on tourism growth from China. With ISIS terrorism showing no signs of abating in the near future, firms dealing with Chinese international Chinese tourists may have to increase their support for travelers to potentially dangerous destinations much like Ctrip has done. Flexibility in booking and refunds may help to reassure Chinese customers that in the event of an attack their needs can be accommodated. Furthermore, international customers may not have the necessary language skills or knowledge of local websites or bureaus to help inform them of potential dangers. Travel firms can help bridge this gap by providing up to date information about local conditions to facilitate travel in an emergency. However governments wishing to attract Chinese tourists will also need to make greater efforts to reassure travelers, including Indonesia.