As the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 deepens, the question has to be asked: will global tourism suffer?
And the logical answer is yes. Not on a 911 scale, perhaps, but there will be an impact. There just has to be.
This saga has now been dragging on for more than two weeks, fragile emotions exacerbated by the apparent incompetence of govt officials charged with:
- Not allowing this to happen in the first place
- Finding any trace of the aircraft and its 239 passengers
With no closure, no evidence of the aircraft or its passengers, international air travel does not look or feel safe once again.
The message is that your aircraft could be hijacked or simply disappear.
And the officials will be no help – either before or after the fact.
Two passengers on MH370 were travelling on false passports. How that happen?
Now Malaysian officials can’t find the plane, which looks really bad even though it is an enormous task.
As AFP reported: “Malaysia’s leaders have come under intense international scrutiny …
“A flurry of false leads has caused friction, especially with China, which had more than 150 citizens aboard the flight.”
China, in case you didn’t know, is the world’s most important tourism market.
Of particular concern were Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s comments last weekend – more than a week after MH370 disappeared – that whatever happened may have been “deliberate”.
He also said the aircraft flew on for several hours after leaving its intended flight path.
China Daily, which is owned by the Chinese Govt, editorialised: “The contradictory and piecemeal information Malaysia Airlines and its government have provided has made search efforts difficult and the entire incident event more mysterious.
“What else is known that has not been shared with the world?”
Plenty of other people are thinking the same thing.
So on that basis, and the fact the missing aircraft is operated by the national carrier, it is odds-on that Malaysian tourism will be hit extremely hard.
Its reputation as a safe country run by competent professional people has been shattered.
Chinese tourists will certainly be looking at other destinations.
Perhaps it has shaken a number their faith in international travel to certain destinations without a strong reputation for security and safety.
The answer to that should be known in the next few months.
Elsewhere, the impact on international aviation travel – especially through Asia – may also suffer.
Everyone is talking about it, all aspects: the disappearance, the cock-ups, where the hell is it, the void that has been left…
And the vacuum is being filled by noise – none of it positive for international air travel.
Suddenly a holiday close to home is looking good.
People might love a mystery, but they don’t want to play a starring role as the victim.