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TIER: Update on Brussels Attacks: Overseas Impact Monitoring

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On Wednesday 23 March, VisitBritain overseas staff were asked to feedback on local coverage and enquiries received from the bombings in Brussels. Below are the responses received by Thursday 24 March at 10.00. Details below are only for markets where there has been coverage.


  • Consumers in European / short-haul markets are the most anxious about travel with Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands affected along with the USA.
  • Globus have said they feel a portion of the US market have crossed Europe off their list for 2016 after the Brussels and Paris attacks. The attacks are just one of many factors impacting travel demand from the US this year (election, stock market, appeal of non-European destinations)
  • There has been extensive media coverage in all markets but limited coverage on the impact to tourism industry.
Market  Feedback

Media coverage has been factual but it’s too early to tell what impact there is with retailers and consumers.


Citizens are in shock and choosing to stay at home with travel being avoided. Belgium has raised its terror threat to its highest level with strict controls at its boundaries.


Extensive media coverage but nothing specific regarding travel warnings to Europe or Britain. Travel trade media coverage regarding the heightened security in Europe and North America.

Comments from the travel trade are that it’s too early to tell what the impact will be on travel to Britain. Following Paris attacks, enquiries went quiet but then picked up again. 


No impact on sentiment to travel to Britain. 


No indication that Danes are cancelling Easter break plans.


Comments from the travel trade are that it’s too early to tell what the impacts are on travel to Britain. Travel to Belgium is affected but also sentiment to travel to Germany, which has been identified in French press as a potential next location for terror attacks.

Belgium Tourist Authorities have paused all media trips with 20 journalists taken back to Paris.

Media coverage on Thursday 24 March quoted Theresa May’s comment that Britain’s intelligence services are the envy of the world in an article explaining how London, Madrid and Washington have acted to prevent further attacks.

Germany, Austria & Switzerland

Since terror attacks earlier this year, Germans, Swiss and Austrians feel nervous about visiting big cities like London as they may be potential targets. Tour operators in all three markets have said bookings for London were already significantly down before the Brussels explosions (up to 50%).

Rural destinations outside of London are seen as safe and not affected by terrorist incidents, with feedback that bookings for Scotland are up already this year. Overall negative impact on London is increasing.


The majority of media coverage has been factual with one article referring to US journalists who are discouraging American citizens from traveling to Europe:

Some tour operators have reported cancelations to European cities including London. Feedback from trade is there have been no new bookings for European capital cities.


Travel industry are concerned that a large number of Dutch tourists will postpone their holiday plans. A quote from Dutch travel trade association, ANVR, mentions they will “definitely notice this on short-term bookings”. Dutch travel agents receiving queries from worried consumers and are offering to cancel / reschedule.


London is considered a safe place to visit and the same is said about the country in general. Norwegian airlines bookings have not been affected with demand for travel across the Atlantic looking good. 

Russia Advice from airlines is to delay trips to Brussels (Aeroflot, Luftansa group). No other impact reported.

Spanish are continuing holiday plans as normal. There is a potential negative impact towards travel demand to Paris and Brussels in the short term with comments that large European cities may be affected.


Media have reported the increase in security across Europe but overall sentiment towards Britain is remaining the same. Most airlines have said that it will take several days to review the impact.


Extensive media coverage on the explosions. Some coverage on the Europe travel alert, advising citizens to exercise caution and be aware of surroundings when in public places.

Comments from Globus are that currently there is no impact on travel to Britain. Since the attacks, they have seen fewer than 30 passengers choose to move their booking to a different date in 2016/17. Their overall feeling is that a portion of the market have crossed Europe off their list for 2016. The Paris attacks mostly had an impact on Paris bookings for 2016 but has helped contribute to an overall lull in Europe. The attacks are just one of many factors impacting travel demand this year (stock market, election coverage, appeal of non-Europe destinations).

Trafalgar has received approximately 100 calls with two adjusting itineraries to avoid Brussels and a further four cancelling their trip. Trafalgar also commented that bookings were higher on 22 March than the same day in 2015.

Other tour operators Travcoa and Europe Express/Go-Today have received enquiries about cancellation policies with sales slowing slightly.


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