With terror attacks occurring months apart in Brussels and Paris, and in recent memory in London, the image of Western Europe as a safe vacation destination may be changing for New Yorkers.
Traditionally Europe has dominated American international travel, according to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, and for centuries Paris and other European cities have stirred the American imagination and appetite for travel. But this week, even New Yorkers who have travelled to Europe in the past are thinking twice about their plans, or being more circumspect when they make them.
“People always say the bad guys are winning if you start to live your life with fear, but I would definitely think twice about going overseas,” says Edward Thomas, while waiting for his daughter at LaGuardia Airport. Thomas, who travelled in Italy 10 years ago, says his wife dreams of going to Paris. “I’d like to believe that it wouldn’t deter me, but I would go with a little more wariness.”
Concern among travelers could be compounded by the fact that the ISIS attacks in Brussels last week were located at two hubs of transportation—the Brussels Airport and a subway station. The unpredictability of the attacks is another cause for unease. Belgium, for example, ranked 16 for safety and security out of 141 nations on a 2015 World Economic Forum travel and tourism report. Yet recent attacks show that the country is vulnerable to radical violence.
Manhattan-based travel agent Heather Solish has recently seen an uptick in travel insurance, which includes protections against terror for European travel. While she feels that overall American tourism to that continent will remain strong, she’s seen three trip cancellations to Europe following the Paris and Brussels attacks, although notes other factors could have been involved.
With summer around the corner, travel agencies and airlines will see if the attacks and unrest in Europe have affected America’s (and New York’s) love of European travel.