As the CEO and co-founder of TripAdvisor, I am often asked if people are still travelling or should still travel given the recent spate of terror attacks we’ve seen in destinations around the world.
Images and eye witness accounts in both familiar and less-travelled places tell stories of heartbreaking tragedy, and each attack has been deeply shocking to learn about. I am going to tell you why I’m still travelling.
One thing these tragedies have shown us is that, while there are physically vast distances between all of us in this world, we come together as if we were neighbours when terror strikes. It would be all too easy to fall into despair as we watch the aftermath of these events. But I am constantly struck by the amazing spirit and resilience shown by people all across the globe who refuse to let fear keep them from living their lives.
The freedom to travel is, for many, an important aspect in their way of life. So it is natural to wonder whether that freedom has now been compromised with the increasing frequency of attacks around the world. But with each attack I have been heartened to see members of our travel community show that they aren’t going to let fear keep them from traveling and seeing the world. Their thirst for new experiences is too big of a part of what makes them who they are.
In fact, one could argue that it is that spirit of adventure and desire to experience different cultures that broadens our minds and makes us see more clearly what unites us as people, rather than what divides us.
My background is in software engineering and I find comfort in statistics, analytics and data. Our data at TripAdvisor shows that people continue to visit our site and plan trips in greater numbers every year, despite the increasing cadence of these isolated terror attacks. Another statistic I saw recently was that, with all the places in the world and all the people in it, the chances of being the victim of a terrorist attack whether at home or traveling is 1 in over 9 million. We all have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning, or dying from a snake bite. On a lighter note, we also have better odds of winning an Olympic Gold Medal or seeing a UFO today.
Of course, it is important that travellers take care when choosing their destination and do what is in our power to stay safe and be informed. Always consult the latest security information offered by the government’s foreign office. Consult travel forums such as those on TripAdvisor to find out what the local community experts are saying about travelling in a destination.
By following that advice, we are seeing that some people are making changes to their travel itinerary. While some people may decide to put their travel plans on hold, for millions of travellers it is not curbing their desire to travel at all. Just look at destinations like Paris, a city that has welcomed millions of international visitors this year alone, and it’s easy to see the enduring resilience of the travel community.
For many of us, travel is an essential part of what makes us happy. It enriches our lives and deepens our perspectives. I write this as I am about to embark on my own summer vacation in Asia. We join the millions of other people around the world who continue to live their lives as ever, governed by the values and beliefs that we hold about the importance of travel and experiencing the world outside of our own.