Terror and tourism: How bad news can harm economic development

Policy brief State Effectiveness and State

  • Reporting on violence often draws attention to countries which are typically not covered by international news outlets, leading to a bad news bias which can affect the view that people hold on these countries and have serious economic consequences.
  • Tourism offers a unique chance to study the effect of news because tourists from different countries evaluate the same destinations to decide whether to visit. This means that if different origin countries report differently on the same events then tourists from different countries will react differently to the same events.
  • The authors find a robust relationship between the intensity of reporting on violence and subsequent drops in tourism spending and visits, and provide some evidence that the preconditions for a similar bad news bias are set for entire regions of Africa which only receive news coverage when something terrible happens.
  • The findings suggest a substantive negative effect of violent events that can be strongly amplified by media reporting.
  • The authors make several policy recommendations and argue governments should prepare their own populations for news reporting biases and government agencies need to professionally manage media relations to foreign media