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Industry experts say fears of terrorism might be overblown.

May 03, 2017

Both leisure and business travelers from the U.S. are reporting elevated concerns over terrorism, healthcare threats, and other global crises, often seeking additional security or avoiding certain destinations, according to new research.

More than half of corporate buyers have seen an increase in the number of business travelers reporting safety concerns, and around 25 percent have seen a spike in travelers requesting security training in the past six months, according to research from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE).

“Given the recent terrorist events in what used to be safe cities — no one ever got a security briefing when they were going to Paris or Brussels or London — but now we’re starting to see concern from travelers going to what used to be safe cities," Greeley Koch, executive director of ACTE, told Travel + Leisure.

Staying closer to home

Many travelers are opting for domestic locations and avoiding certain destinations in Europe, such as London and Paris, that have seen terror attacks in recent years, according to data from flight aggregator Hopper. That trend could continue over the summer, as the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Europe through September.

In the first six months of 2016, Paris lost $846 million in tourism revenue as the capital city saw a slump in visitors following concerns after multiple terror attacks in 2015.

“People are worried that the big, wide world is not as safe anymore,” Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper, told CNN Money. “People are choosing to stay closer to home.”

Fears are statistically irrational

While people might be avoiding European destinations, both data and experts agree that there is little reason to do so. In 2015, France saw the worst attack on its own soil since World War II, when terrorists killed 130 people in Paris the night of November 13. It was also the same year of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, in which 12 people were killed in the offices of a satirical magazine.

Despite 2015 being the bloodiest for terrorism in France, the country welcomed a record 85 million visitors. There were 66.81 million people living in France in 2015 according to the World Bank.

This means that of the 151.8 million people who spent time in France in 2015, 142 died from terrorism, putting the odds of being killed in a terror attack at just .00000094.

“The fear of terrorism is not something rational,” Axel Dyèvre, a former French military officer and director of the European Strategic Intelligence Company, told T+L in August.

Domestic politics are playing a role.

Concerns from travelers are not just over international destinations, however. Analysts have pointed to the effect of U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive orders that have restricted immigration to the U.S. and cracked down on business travelers having access to their tools such as laptops and tablets.

Fears of not being able to have access to technology for work or of being forced to unlock that technology upon entry to the U.S. is a top concern for foreign business travelers, according to Koch of ACTE.

Business travelers blazing the trail.

With these fears likely to continue throughout 2017, business travelers may be some of the poeple most likely to travel in spite of threats. While domestic travelers may have the ability to choose a different destination or stay home if security concerns arise, business travelers are often more restricted, as their travel frequently depends on specific clients and cities.

“Business travelers are resilient," said Koch. "They know the odds.”

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