In the 20th century, tourism became one of the main economic sectors, and similar trends have continued in the 21st century; it continues to grow regardless of the negative circumstances in the world, such as instability of the financial markets, energy crisises and armed conflicts. Tourism has a positive economic impact on the balance sheet, employment, gross income and production, so the share of tourism in global GDP was 10.4% in 2017. Tourism is, directly or indirectly, connected with over 313 million jobs, or 4.2% of all jobs in the world (World Travel & Tourism Council 2018). For some developing countries, tourism is the main driver of economic growth and development as it stimulates new economic activity, and the consumption of foreign tourists in many countries represents some kind of alternative form of export, contributing to the improvement of balance of payments through foreign exchange earnings (Khalil et al. 2007).

Except for indisputable economic advantages, tourism development, from a social and cultural perspective, also has negative consequences such as threats to traditional social and family values, the adaptation of cultural practices to tourist needs, pollution of the natural environment and crime (Brunt and Hambly 1999). The aim of this paper is to analyse how crime affects security in tourism and to describe the consequences of crime to tourism. Tourism and security are “unavoidably interwoven phenomena” (Ghaderi et al. 2017, p. 552), and security threats such as terrorism, crime and potential armed conflicts can strongly affect decision-making in the choice of tourist destination (Pizam and Mansfeld 2006). From the above-mentioned security threats, crime is probably the most widespread: Brunt et al. (2000, p. 418) argue that “although there are many examples, the actual risk of terrorist attack is low”, and it is much more likely that tourists will become crime victims than terrorist attack victims. The consequences of crimes committed against tourists are various, from tourist victimisation to the negative public image, and given the numerous negative consequences, this issue should be approached very seriously.

A descriptive method was used in this paper to explain the concept of security in tourism and to analyse the relationship between tourism and crime. The data was drawn from the scientific and professional literature and policy documents on this subject. The knowledge and positions of other authors were helpful, for which the compilation method was used.

Theoretical background and research trends

Security in tourism is not only a question of the postmodern age, since people have always faced certain forms of danger and uncertainty on their journeys (Michalko 2003); however, mass travel and mass tourism are a new phenomenon connected with the 20th century since travel was limited to those who were very rich or to those who had to travel due to the nature of the work (e.g. sailors or soldiers) in the period prior to the 1950s (Tarlow 2006). Considering that tourism became more accessible to the wider population in the 20th century, as social mobility increased and, in general, revenues increased (Lisowska 2017), thus tourism became one of the most significant economic branches and, therefore, tourism security has become “one of the most important national security issues across the globe” (Boxill 2012, p. 26). This attention is easily understandable since “peace, safety, and security are the primary conditions for successful tourism development” (Pizam and Mansfeld 2006, p. 16).

In scientific literature, tourism security issues have been studied since the mid-1970s (Brunt et al. 2000) and the security threats to tourism are systematised in various ways. One possible way of systematisation is a division into natural threats (earthquakes, floods, storms), threats that have been caused by people (terrorism, wars, crime) and health threats (Mansfeld and Pizam 2006). Pizam and Mansfeld (2006) identified four main types of threats to tourism security: crime, terrorism, wars, and political turmoil. Hall et al. (2003) state that tourism and behaviour connected to it can be influenced by a wide range of factors such as economic recession, political insecurity and uncertainty, territorial disputes and border conflicts, environmental change and biosecurity threats. Tsaur et al. (1997) have analysed the risks in tourism and divided them into two groups: physical risks and equipment risks. This paper will examine crime more closely; respectively, the impact of crime on security and tourism.

Research on the relationship between tourism and crime is based on various theoretical approaches. However, most of the research uses standard criminological theories that can generally be applied to different types of crime, and the theoretical determination of the tourism-crime relationship exclusively is rare (e.g. Prideaux 1996). In literature, tourism related crime and victimisation of tourists are mostly explained with two theoretical approaches: routine activity theory and hot spot theory. These theoretical approaches should help us to understand the mechanisms that affect the victimisation of tourists and how it could help them.

The routine activity theory (Cohen and Felson 1979) is based on classic concepts of human ecology, and at the centre of this theory are routine activities in everyday life. Cohen and Felson argue that the routine activity structure affects criminality and trends in crime. Here, criminal activity is treated as routine activity and this routine activity is associated with other routine behaviour, and the emphasis is placed on the interdependence between the structure of criminal activities and the organisation of everyday activities. According to this theory, three elements that must converge in order for the crime to occur: 1) motivated offenders, 2) suitable victimisation targets, and 3) absence of a guardian who can prevent victimisation. Tourists are suitable targets because they carry money or valuable things with them, and furthermore, they are in an unknown environment. The perpetrators of the criminal offences are motivated, especially in the poorer countries, by seeing a very clear difference between those who have and those who have not, and if there are no suitable guardians, such as police or security, the possibility of perpetrating criminal offences against tourists is increased (Holcomb and Pizam 2006).

The other theoretical approach, Hot Spot Theory (Crotts 1996), is based on environmental criminology, and it analyses criminal focuses; it emphasises that certain places may be associated with higher crime rates. “Places where tourists are at greatest risk of becoming victimised have been shown to cluster in a few specific types of places” (Crotts 1996, p. 8) and there are suitable settings necessary for attacks on tourists. As an example of such a place, Crotts (1996) refers to Dade County in Florida, where in 1993, 29% of all reported property crimes were committed, as well as 37% of all reported violent crimes against tourists in the State of Florida. It is interesting that Dade County hosted 16% of all tourists who visited the State of Florida this year, with about 30% of all criminal offences committed there.

The third theoretical approach to studying the relationship between tourism and crime is based on the economic theory of crime. The foundations of the economic theory of crime were laid by Nobel laureate, Gary Becker, who stated that people will engage in criminal activities if they find that their profits from criminal activities will be greater than if they invest time, money and other resources in other activities (Becker 1968). This approach views criminals as rational decision-makers, who, in addition to making potential gains, also analyse potential costs (possibility of being arrested, the severity of punishment, social stigma) before committing criminal activity. Applying this theory to the relationship between tourism and crime, the basic argument is that tourism development and an increase of tourists can stimulate economic activity, increase employment opportunities and wages for local people and also increase opportunities for criminal activities (Montolio and Planells-Strusse 2013) because of the increased number of potential victims.

In addition to general criminological theories, which can be applied beyond the field of tourism security, there are unfortunately only a few attempts to theoretically ground the relationship between crime and tourism. One of them is Prideaux (1996), who developed the Tourism Crime Cycle. Prideaux argues that there are four stages in the development of tourist destinations: local tourism, where the owners of the facilities are local people and tourists and employees are also mostly local; regional tourism, where external (non-local) investments and the number of external seasonal workers are increasing; national tourism, where, with the development of tourism infrastructure and nightlife, destinations include alcohol and drugs, and mass tourism. Prideaux believes that as each new phase of destination development increases, the level of crime also increases and that the level of crime is also connected with destination marketing and the public image of the destination. The highest level of crime occurs in destinations that are perceived as so-called hedonistic destinations, which are mostly visited by younger tourists and notable for their unrestrained fun, adventure, casual sex and use of alcohol and drugs. These destinations employ low-paid seasonal workers who, faced with poor off-season employment opportunities, indulge in drug use, and the financial means to procure the drugs come from theft and resale of stolen goods. Family values destinations, which offer activities for all age groups, are the opposite of hedonistic destinations and the level of crime is low there.

Research trends

Tourism has become one of the key economic sectors since the 20th century and the older scientific literature emphasised the undeniably positive economic effects of tourism. However, since the 1970s, in the scientific, professional and also general public, the negative effects of tourism development have begun to be highlighted. Firstly, the over-exploitation of the natural environment and then phenomena such as the rise of crime (Lisowska 2017). The first scientific papers in this field emerged in the 1970s. Jud (1975) conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 32 Mexican states and territories, and analysed the connection of crime and tourism with the degree of urbanisation and found a strong connection between tourism and crimes against property (fraud, larceny and robbery). Fujii and Mak (1980), using the example of Hawaii, tested the hypothesis that tourism creates environmental externalities in the form of increased crime against people and property, and found that “tourism growth does indeed lead to increased crime in visitor destination’’ (Fujii and Mak 1980, p. 34), both for property crime and crime against the person.

After these initial works in the 1970s, tourism and crime topics gained increasing attention in academia, and four main research trends could be classified as:

  1. analysis of the characteristics of tourism and crime - this line of research is very common in literature. The crime rates are analysed using descriptive statistical methods i.e. crime rates in one single destination or country, or tourist crime rates (Ajagunna 2006; de Albuquerque and McElroy 1999; Chesney-Lind and Lind 1986; Harper 2006; Johnny and Jordan 2007; Michalko 2003) and some authors make comparisons between a few cities or destinations (Baker and Stockton 2014; Pelfrey 1998; Walmsley et al. 1983).

  2. analysis of the relationship between tourism, crime and socio-economic indicators - this line of research is present in the works of authors who base their research on economic indicators or economic theory of crime (Biagi et al. 2012; Biagi and Detotto 2014; Grinols et al. 2011; Montolio and Planells-Struse 2013; Palanca-Tan et al. 2015). By using complex statistical methods, the connections between tourism, socioeconomic characteristics such as unemployment, GDP, income, education or population density and crime trends or crime rates are analysed.

  3. research on tourist attitudes to crime, security perception and fear of crime - these studies are based on surveys of tourists, where they share their experiences of crime on holiday or while travelling (Adam and Adongo 2016; Boakye 2010; Holcomb and Pizam 2006) or attitudes about the perception of security (Barker et al. 2003; Boakye 2012; Eman et al. 2018; George 2003; George 2010; George and Booyens 2014; Mawby et al. 2016; Seabra et al. 2013; Walker and Page 2007). Some authors have analysed the fear of crime during travel and on vacation (Brunt et al. 1999; Mawby 2000) and the relationship between risk perception and the decision to travel (Floyd et al. 2003). Brunt and Shepard (2004) conducted a survey of victims who experienced victimisation as tourists.

  4. research on the attitudes of the residents about the impact of tourism on crime and security - in this direction, the views of the residents from the active tourist areas on the impact of tourism on the safety and occurrence of crime in a particular local community are analysed. This research trend is less represented in the literature than the three research trends described above; resident surveys on the general impact of tourism on the local community are quite common, but specific studies about the impact of tourism on crime and security are not so common. In most of these studies, residents’ general attitudes about tourism were examined, and as part of these broader studies, attitudes to security and crime were also examined (Andereck et al. 2005; Brunt and Courtney 1999; Gursoy et al. 2010; Smith and Krannich 1998), and only a small body of research pointed out attitudes to security and crime exclusively (Brunt and Brophy 2004; Brunt and Hooton 2010; Mawby 2002). Some studies (Byrd et al. 2009) have compared the attitudes of residents and tourists to the increase in crime.

Results of these research trends are shown in Table 1.

Table 1

Tourism and crime – main research trends

1. Research into tourism and crime characteristics in a particular destination
de Albuquerque and McElroy (1999)The study found that tourists are much more likely to be victimised by property crime and robbery, whereas residents are more likely to be victims of murder and aggravated assault. Contrary to expectations, the authors did not find a connection between the tourist season and crimes against tourists; they even found that the number of property and violent crimes against tourists is higher after the peak tourist season than during the season.
Baker and Stockton (2014)The authors state that the relationship between crime rates and the number of tourists cannot be established with significant certainty and they point to other factors influencing the crime rates, primarily the number of police officers in these two cities, since their research has shown a connection between increased numbers of police officers and reduced crime rates.
Harper (2006)In most of the attacks (84%), the victim was male, who was alone at the time of the attack. The largest number of victims (47%) was between 25 and 35 years of age. In 94% of the attacks, a weapon was used, mostly a gun (58% of attacks). The largest number of attacks occurred between midnight and 2 a.m. (26% of attacks) and two-thirds of the attacks occurred in alleyways outside the main pedestrian zone.
Johnny and Jordan (2007)Citizens were more often crime victims than tourists. Tourists are more likely to be victims of property-related crimes than violent crimes, especially housebreaking, robbery and theft.
Michalko (2003)The number of foreign visitors and criminal offences committed against them showed a close relationship. Most of the crime committed against foreigners is property crime, especially car theft, car burglary, stealing and pickpocketing
2. Research into tourism, crime and socio-economic indicators interdependence
Biagi et al. (2012)The authors have found a positive link between tourism and criminal activity, e.g. that a 1% increase in the number of tourists leads to a 0.018% increase in total crime in Italy.
Biagi and Detotto (2014)The authors have found tourism has a significant effect on street crime, especially pick-pocketing offences. They also found that tourists on have a greater effect on crime rates in larger cities than in mountain areas.
Grinols et al. (2011)It was concluded that there was no statistically significant connection between the number of visitors and crime rates. These negative results that are inconsistent with existing surveys can be explained by the fact that the results are to be conditioned by the type of tourism they analyse, e.g. that certain types of tourists, such as visitors to national parks, do not have an impact on increasing crime rates.
Montolio and Planells-Struse (2013)The findings indicate that the impact of the number of tourist arrivals on crime rates is positive and statistically significant in the case of serious crimes and positive, but not significant, for minor crimes.
Palanca-Tan et al. (2015)When the authors analysed the total number of tourist arrivals and crime rates, they did not get a statistically significant relationship, but when looking at certain categories of tourists, connections were found. The number of foreign tourist arrivals has a significant positive relationship to robbery and theft and the number of overseas Filipinos is significantly and negatively related to robbery.
3. Research into tourist attitudes to crime, the perception of security and the fear of crime
Boakye (2012)Tourists younger than 30 are considered most vulnerable where 58% of respondents considered themselves vulnerable to crime, while only 25.3% of respondents over the age of 50 thought the same about themselves. Gender showed a certain correlation with vulnerability perception: 49.7% of women were considered as vulnerable to crime, while that figure was lower in male respondents, i.e. it was 37.2%
Holcomb and Pizam (2006)The highest number of thefts occurred in vehicles (25.1%) and in hotels (25.7%). Out of tourists travelling abroad, most of the thefts occurred in Mexico (12.8%), Italy (12.7%) and Canada (10.6%).
George (2010)The age of respondents influenced their perception of crime and safety and, as the age of respondents increased, their concern for personal safety increased as well. This regularity has been shown with examinees under 55 years, and with those older than 55 their concern for personal safety decreased. When looking at gender, there was no correlation found between respondent’s gender and the perception of security.
Mawby (2000)56% of those who experienced victimisation said they would return to the tourist destination, and only 14% believed they would probably or definitely not. Relatively low concern or fear of crime on vacation was explained with the features of respondents in this survey: most of the respondents were older (the average age in the sample was 55 years) men (65% of respondents were men) from higher social classes (only 8% the respondents were manual workers).
Walker and Page (2007)Tourists who believe that they are responsible for their own safety in the destination have a much lower expectation of becoming a crime victim in the destination, compared to the likelihood of becoming a crime victim at home.
4. Research into residents’ views about the impact of tourism on crime and security
Brunt and Brophy (2004)There was found to be a relationship between the age of tourists and deviant acts. Residents generally perceive the deviant acts of tourists as “unintentional” and influenced by factors such as nightlife, the use of drugs or alcohol and being away from home. An analysis of destination marketing found that a hedonistic destination is more attractive to potentially deviant tourists who are attracted by nightlife, relaxation and parties.
Brunt and Hooton (2010)Residents change their behaviour in response to tourism-related crime, incivilities and their fear of crime – they left vehicles carefully overnight and they made adjustments to returning home at night. Business owners had less negative attitudes towards deviant tourists than residents.
Byrd et al. (2009)Statistically significant differences between stakeholder groups were found for seven of the nine questions. As expected, residents indicated a higher level of agreement with the statement that tourism development increases crime, in comparison to entrepreneurs.
Mawby (2002)Since there is a low level of recorded crime, it is not surprising that most residents feel safe. Few residents consider tourists responsible for the crime in the area, but most of them believe that the occurrence of crime is the responsibility of casual workers from out of the area.

Tourism-related crime and victimisation

Tourism-related crimes are not only crimes committed against tourists (Tarlow 2006), but this relationship is much more complex. The relationship between offenders and victims of tourism-related crime is summarised in Table 2.

Table 2

Perpetrators and victims of crime in tourism (adapted from Tarlow 2006, p. 96)

Crimes committed by:Crimes committed against:Types of crimeGoal of crime
LocalsTouristsAssaults, petty theft, con artists, crimes of distractionUsually economic gain
TouristsOther tourists or local population, or tourism personnelRobbery, pickpockets, small scale larcenyUsually economic or social gain
Tourism industryTouristsFraud, business misrepresentationEconomic

The first case, where locals are the perpetrators of crimes against tourists, is most often addressed in the literature (Cohen 1997). For practical reasons, this type of crime attracts the greatest attention from the authorities, since the increase in this type of crime has significant negative effects on tourist arrivals. However, tourists can also be the perpetrators of crime, both against other tourists as well as against residents and tourist staff, which can be explained by the “allegedly “liberating”, “liminal” or “ludic” nature of tourism, the increased sense of permissiveness of individuals outside the constraints of their home environment“ (Cohen 1997, p. 5). The occurrence of this type of crime is also affected by the very nature of tourism since a large number of foreigners is staying in “relatively informal unstructured situations” (ibid.) and, therefore, mainly minor offences are committed, such as petty theft and pickpocketing. The third situation, where the tourist industry commits crimes against tourists, mostly economic crimes such as various forms of fraud, is scarcely addressed in the literature. This type of crime is not very common in developed countries; however, in developing countries, where the ethical culture of tourism businesses is lower, it is more probable that tourists will become victims of this type of crime.

Tourists as victims

Separated in an unknown environment from various forms of social support and protection which they have at home, and from a network of family and friends who can help them, tourists can easily become crime victims (Chesney-Lind and Lind 1986). The tourism culture itself is such that it makes easier for tourists to become crime victims and for criminals to stay unnoticed. Some of these features of the tourist culture are: a large number of visitors is staying in a smaller geographical area for a short period of time; a large number of seasonal workers; volatile relationships between tourists; volatile relationships between tourists, the tourism industry and its staff, and intensive spending of money (Barclay et al. 2015).

There are several factors that affect victimisation of tourists; they can be social, psychological and situational (Carić 1999). Holcomb and Pizam (2006) state the reasons which increase the probability of a tourist’s victimisation:

  • Tourists are “lucrative targets” since they usually carry greater amounts of money, credit cards and personal belongings (Crotts 1996), such as cameras and mobile phones that can be easily resold. Tourists are relatively wealthy and, hence, especially in the poorer countries, they can become targets of local criminals (Brunt et al. 2000).

  • Tourists can become victims because of the careless attitude they take on vacation; tourists in the first place expect and seek fun and relaxation and, therefore, do not care about personal safety (de Albuquerque and McElroy 1999). In some cases, the careless attitude stems from the fact that some tourists come from countries with a high level of security and are expecting the same security level in the country they are visiting, especially if they have not been warned about the crime status in the country they are visiting (Michalko 2003).

  • Tourists can easily become victims of crime since they are more inclined to risky behaviour than the rest of the population. Tourists sometimes want to try out things they do not practice at home (Carić 1999) and de Albuquerque and McElroy (1999, p. 970) argue that some of the tourists “escape for two weeks and indulge in anti-social and self-destructive behaviour”, and this behaviour usually involves drug consumption and the use of prostitutes.

  • The unfamiliarity of the surrounding environment also affects the victimisation of tourists. Outside institutionalised tourist facilities, such as hotels, tourists create a special relationship with the population of the places they visit and their search for authentic experiences can bring them into contact with people who will want to take advantage of them (Harper 2006).

  • Tourists are “highly visible targets” for the way they are dressed, which may be different from the local population (Crotts 1996).

A larger number of studies of crime against tourists (e.g. Jarell and Howsen 1990; Michalko 2003; de Melo et al. 2018) have shown that tourists are mainly victims of property-related crime (theft, burglary, theft of vehicles) and, to a significantly smaller extent, criminal offences with elements of violence (assault, rape, murder).

Based on police statistics, Michalko (2003) found that between 1996 and 2000 in Hungary there were 80,000 attacks committed against foreign tourists; since around 100 million tourists visited Hungary during this period, one in every 1250 tourists was a crime victim. Of the above-mentioned number of attacks, 96.6% were criminal offences, most of which consisted of theft of vehicles and burglaries (50.1%), other forms of theft (23.1%) and pickpocketing (13.7%). Also on the basis of police data, Harper (2006) conducted an analysis of the robbing of tourists in New Orleans in 2001, when 377 robberies were committed, and in 2002, when 175 robberies were committed. In most of the attacks (84%) the victim was male, who was alone at the time of the attack. The largest number of victims (47%) was between 25 and 35 years of age. In 94% of the attacks a weapon was used, mostly a gun (58% of attacks).

Holcomb and Pizam (2006) conducted an analysis in the US about theft on a journey. Out of the 1017 respondents, 215 reported that they were or knew someone who was a victim of theft on a journey. The highest number of thefts occurred in vehicles (25.1%) and in hotels (25.7%). Out of the tourists travelling abroad, given the country where the theft occurred, most of the thefts occurred in Mexico (12.8%), Italy (12.7%) and Canada (10.6%).

McElroy (2006), using data from the Caribbean, found that foreign tourists are to a greater extent victims of property crime than the domestic population, i.e. three times more when looking at crime offences such as robbery and theft. The domestic population is more likely to become a victim of violent crime such as attacks, rapes and murders.

Brunt et al. (2000), using a questionnaire on incidents that took place on their last holiday, carried out an analysis of victimisation in the UK - out of 514 participants in the survey, 18% of them were victims of certain crime incidents, most of which were burglary and theft or attempted theft. Data obtained from this questionnaire was compared with data from the British Crime Survey, a national crime investigation conducted across the UK, and it was found that the results on victimisation obtained in their survey were much more significant than the results from the British Crime Survey, which suggests that the likelihood of victimisation is much higher on travel and vacation than at home.

Tourists as offenders

To a much lesser extent, tourists can appear in the role of crime perpetrators, and these are mostly younger people attending mass events or destinations perceived as hedonistic destinations, with rich nightlife and considerable consumption of alcohol and drugs (Barclay et al. 2015). Brunt and Brophy developed a “typology of deviant tourists” (Brunt and Brophy 2004, p. 12) and divided tourist deviants into three types:

  1. accidental deviant – unintentional deviance is committed, and the perpetrators are usually younger adults. An example of this type of deviance is aggressive behaviour, as a consequence of excessive alcohol consumption. In 1988 and 1989, the UK government and the Association of British Travel Agents discussed with the Spanish government and the police measures that should be taken to prevent the violent activities of drunk British tourists, especially after some drunk British tourists killed a Spanish taxi driver in 1989 (Ryan 1993);

  2. situational deviant - involves unplanned deviance. Tourists use the opportunity to consume drugs or use the services of prostitutes because they are publicly available or tolerated in the destination they have visited;

  3. intentional deviant - unlike the above two types of deviant tourists, here the deviant tourists plan deviance. The perpetrator goes to the destination with the intention of committing the desired deviant activity, and sometimes tourists can be the perpetrators of serious crimes, as is shown in an example from Croatia: in the summer of 2018, a British citizen killed one person with a knife and stabbed two perople in front of a nightclub in Zrće, a destination known for drug use at electronic music parties. The media assumed that the murder was connected with British gangs fighting for drug-dealing territory since the electronic music festival held in Zrće attracts about 15,000 people (Šarić 2018).

The motivations for committing deviant behaviour are various, and except the intentional deviant, it can be generally described by “tourism culture of carelessness” (Mawby et al. 1999, p. 203) and the factors which affect this deviance can be divided into intrinsic and extrinsic influence. Intrinsic influence includes the willingness of tourists to experiment, to have fun and engage in “risky behaviour” on vacation, while extrinsic influences are factors that actually encourage tourists to do something deviant: marketing that presents the destination as a “party” destination, plenty of bars, clubs and the like and anonymity in the destination (Brunt and Brophy 2004).

The Impact of Crime on Tourism

The impact of crime on tourism can be seen on two levels: the macro and micro levels. The impact of crime on the macro level refers to the effects on society in general, on the social community and tourist destination, and the impact of crime at the micro level refers to the effects of crime on a person, i.e. on a tourist (Holcomb and Pizam 2006).

Macro level

Crime on the macro level affects the tourist destination and the country where that destination is located. The most significant and also the most noticeable negative impact of crime on a tourist destination is the negative image of the destination, resulting in reduced tourist demand and the reduced number of tourist arrivals, and, therefore, “most tourist destinations try to paint a beautiful picture of their areas in order to entice travellers to visit” (Holcomb and Pizam 2006, p. 109). Reducing the number of tourist arrivals has as a consequence, including a fall in revenues. For example, it is estimated that Egypt lost about $1 billion in 1992 after Muslim extremists attacked international tourists, and the same year, Los Angeles lost between 1 and 2 billion $ of tourist income after riots and gang war (Crotts 1996). Alleyne and Boxill (2003) showed that in Jamaica, the increase in crime had a negative impact on tourist arrivals. The drop in tourist arrivals was particularly evident in arrivals of tourists from Europe, which, unlike other Jamaica tourists, mostly from the United States, did not use the all-inclusive resorts that mostly leave foreign tourists without contact with the outside world and also with the crime. More intense contacts with the local community resulted in increased victimisation of European tourists, and consequently, this victimisation influenced their decision to revisit Jamaica.

The effects on tourist arrivals, i.e. on tourist demand, differ in intensity and the duration of criminal and violent acts (Pizam 1999). Crime affects tourism demand with different intensity, depending on the nature of the act that happened: occasional petty crime will not have an effect on tourism demand; however a more serious crime occurrence can lead to a slight decrease, a significant decrease and a drastic decrease in tourism demand. The greatest level of impact is the cessation of all tourist visits, and it occurs in cases of constant terrorist activity or war. The duration of the effects of crime or violence on tourism demand, Pizam (1999), has been divided into four categories: short (several weeks), medium-term (2-4 months), long (more than one tourist season) and indefinite. Recent experiences have shown that destination recovery can occur relatively quickly if there is no recurrence of acts of crime or violence that have led to a decline in demand.

The reduced number of tourist arrivals has other negative effects on the destination: since revenues are reduced, the destination will lose employees who are essential for the functioning of the tourism sector, and the reduction in revenues may also affect the quality of infrastructure. Likewise, insecurity of a destination will encourage investors to invest funds in other destinations or other sectors (Pizam and Mansfeld 2006). The effects on the country where the destination is located are also multiple: fewer tourists in the first place mean less income, but also fewer taxes that are collected from tourist arrivals. There is a paradox here since the fight against crime has significant costs, both in financial and human resources, and public authorities engaged in prevention and combatting of crime will generate these resources via the taxation of citizens1, which will consequentially have a negative impact on citizens (Holcomb and Pizam 2006).

Tourist arrivals and the creation of a destination image are significantly influenced by the media, since “in an increasingly media-saturated society, the tourist’s first impression of a destination is likely to come from the media” (Brown 2015, p. 268). Considering that “intensive mass media coverage of security incidents contributes to the decline of tourist visits to affected destinations” (Pizam and Mansfeld 2006, p. 17), the media really “has the potential to make or break a destination” (Boxill 2012, p. 28). The media broadcast local, national and international news about criminal incidents and, in this way, a particular city or country can be increasingly perceived as dangerous and unsafe. Incidents involving the use of firearms in New Orleans in the 1990s gained significant media attention in the United States and contributed to the creation of New Orleans image as an insecure city, resulting in a sharp decline in the number of tourist arrivals (Dimanche and Lepetic 1999). Media coverage of gang wars on drugs in Mexico had a strong negative impact on some of Mexico’s major tourist destinations (Boxill 2012). Changing the negative image is mostly long-lasting and expensive (Dimanche and Lepetic 1999) and includes various marketing activities aimed at creating positive public opinion in the media, local community and with potential consumers, and these marketing activities are also combined with price reductions and the creation of new products aimed to attract new tourists (Pizam and Mansfeld 2006).

Micro level

The impact of crime on the micro level is evident in the influence on behaviour and attitudes of individuals, i.e. tourists, and their decision whether to visit or revisit a destination where criminal incidents happened.

Fear of crime significantly affects people and their behaviour, and in the context of tourism, it can “cause people to remain in their home, curb activities, and even avoid travel altogether” (Holcomb and Pizam 2006, p. 106). Acts of terrorism or crime incidents affect their perception of risk and are visible in their decision to travel or go on holiday, and they will take the following decisions in the event of an incident: “cancellations of booked trips, avoiding booking trips to affected destinations, or, for those already in the affected destination, moving to a safer place or evacuating the destination and returning home” (Pizam and Mansfeld 2006, p. 7).

When the effects of crime on the behaviour and attitudes of tourists are analysed, it should be considered that they significantly depend on the forms of crime and personal characteristics of tourists: 1) all forms of crime do not have an equivalent effect on tourists - some types of crime will have a stronger impact on them and they will affect their decision to visit or revisit a particular destination, while other forms of crime will not have a significant impact on such a decision; and 2) the perception of risk and crime is not the same for all tourists - it depends on the personal characteristics of tourists, and the most significant of them are travel experiences and age (Lisowska 2017).

Violent and non-violent crime has very different effects on tourists - violent crime, including robbery, assaults, rapes or killings have much more negative effects on tourists than property crime, especially if stolen goods are of smaller value (Holcomb and Pizam 2006). When analysing tourism in the Caribbean, McElroy (2006) argues that the basic features of the so-called narco-economy in the Caribbean, namely violence, drug addiction, and corruption, endanger the sustainability of tourism in the Caribbean. The rise of the narco-economy has changed the features of crime in the Caribbean since the 1980s, resulting in a significant increase in the number of murders, the shift from property to violent crime, increased violence associated with drug dealer gangs and the killings of innocent passers-by. McElroy (2006) found that a 1% increase in the crime rate led to half a per cent drop of tourist arrivals in the Caribbean.

The effects of property crime on tourists are not so serious. Holcomb and Pizam (2006) conducted a study in the United States about thefts on journeys; they explored whether the experience of theft on a journey or the knowledge of a friend or family who experienced theft on a journey affected their future decision to revisit the destination where the theft occurred. This study showed that there was no difference in the likelihood of revisiting the destination where the theft occurred, among those who personally experienced theft as well as those who know someone who experienced theft on a journey. The study also showed that the perceived seriousness of the theft incident did not have a significant impact on the decision to travel to the destination where the theft occurred and the passing of time after the theft did not affect the decision to revisit the destination.

Except for the characteristics of the crime, the impact of crime on tourists depends on the characteristics of the tourist’s personality. Sönmez and Graefe (1998) found that experience of international travel is a significant variable in the travel risk assessment. Their study showed that those who had more international travel experience had a lower level of risk perception and more positive attitude towards international travel, and it was also found that the interest in future travel depends on the feeling of security on past journeys. Regarding demographic characteristics such as age, gender, education, income and number of children in the household, only education and income were found as significant variables in this study, meaning that more educated and wealthier people have had more positive attitudes towards travel. These results are consistent with the results found by Brunt et al. (2000) that those from higher social classes are less likely to perceive crime risk and are less likely to be afraid or worried about crime than those from lower classes.

In a survey on the perception of crime, safety and risk attitudes, which was carried out on 303 tourists in South Africa, George (2010) found that the age of respondents influenced their perception of crime and safety and he showed that as the age of respondents increased, their concern for personal safety increased as well. This regularity has been shown with examinees under 55 years, and with those older than 55 their concern for personal safety decreased. When examining gender, there was no correlation found between respondent’s gender and the sense of security, and a similar result was shown in his earlier research (cf. George 2003). Boakye (2012) examined the perception of crime vulnerability on a sample of 336 tourists in Ghana and got similar results. The most vulnerable were considered a group of tourists younger than 30, where 58% of respondents considered themselves vulnerable to crime, while only 25.3% of respondents over the age of 50 thought the same for themselves. A lower level of fear of crime can be explained in their experience gained on journeys, meaning that the more experienced respondents feel that they are less vulnerable to crime because of their former experiences. Gender showed a certain correlation with vulnerability perception: namely, 49.7% of women were considered as vulnerable to crime, while that figure was lower in male respondents, i.e. it was 37.2%. Similar results were also found by Mawby (2000) on a sample of 514 respondents from the United Kingdom. Relatively low concern or fear of crime on vacation is explained by Mawby with the features of respondents in this survey: the majority of respondents were older (the average age in the sample was 55 years) men (65% of respondents were men) from higher social classes (only 8% the respondents were manual workers).

The impact of crime on the behaviour of tourists is also evident in the decision to revisit the destination or to recommend it to others to visit. Regardless of this, it could be expected that tourists who have experienced some form of victimisation will not show a willingness to revisit the destination where the crime incident happened, and recent research suggests that victimisation of tourists or feelings of insecurity are not always an obstacle for a revisit. In the already mentioned survey carried out by Boakye (2012) in Ghana, 90.2% of the theft victims claimed that they will revisit the destination and 94.4% said that they would recommend the destination to others. In a survey conducted by Mawby (2000), 56% of those who experienced victimisation said they will return to the tourist destination, and only 14% believe they would “probably not” or “definitely not”. Similar results were also obtained by Holcomb and Pizam (2006) - only 22.8% of theft victims or people who know the theft victims claimed that they did not intend to revisit the destination. In a survey conducted by George (2010), despite the fact that visitors estimated Table Mountain National Park as insecure, they said that it was very likely that they would revisit it.


Crime can have a very negative impact on tourism, and following all of the above mentioned, it can be concluded that security in tourism can not be “taken for granted” and that it is necessary to make significant efforts (both financial and organisational) to ensure a safe environment for tourists (Ghaderi et al. 2017). In its complex relationship with crime, the tourism industry is in a specific and unfavourable position, since tourism is trapped by the danger of harmful publicity that is caused by crime and its effects on the number of tourist visits, and on the other hand, by the fact that the causes of crime are not solely confined to tourism.

Regardless of the fact that the tourism industry itself is not responsible for the emergence of crime, it is quite obvious that tourists are potential targets (Brunt and Hambly 1999) and, therefore, it is necessary to design and implement measures which will reduce the opportunities for emergence of crime and tourist victimisation and enable assistance to victims when crimes are committed.

Some of these measures are (Brás and Rodrigues 2010):

  • organisation of security forces, public or private, ready to intervene and deal with tourism-related crime whenever necessary - some countries established special police units aimed exclusively for the assistance to tourists. They patrol in areas with a larger number of tourists and provide them with information and help and, in such a way, contribute to their sense of security. As for helping tourists who have become victims of crime, a valuable example exists in Ireland. There, in 1994, an Irish Tourist Assistance Service was set up, which provides tourists with emotional support and practical assistance, free of charge. Practical assistance includes emergency accommodation, replacement of stolen documents and contacting banks, embassies and airlines on behalf of victims, insurance companies (Mawby 2014);

  • providing information on tourism-related crime in a clear and simple way to enable identification of security issues and control of possible risks - one of the possible measures is publishing of leaflets in several languages, to inform tourists how to reduce the likelihodd of becoming crime victims and how to contact the police if a criminal offence is committed (Michalko 2003);

  • improved communication between the police, tourism authorities and the tourism industry so that they can take security measures together;

  • compliance and adoption of safety standards and safety measures by places visited by tourists and the local community - some of the simplest measures include better street lighting and an increase in the number of cameras in places where tourists are staying (Mawby 2014);

  • education on security issues for tourists, the tourism industry and the local community

  • this measure is considered essential to reduce crime rates and to ensure the security of tourists.

Several authors (Brunt and Hambly 1999; Dimanche and Lepetic 1999; Ghaderi et al. 2017; Mansfeld and Pizam 2006) emphasise that it is essential that in activities related to prevention and suppression of crime in tourism and assistance to victims, various stake-holders participate who are involved in tourism: the tourism industry, local community, national authorities, police and state agencies. Only through the joint action of various stakeholders is it possible to prevent the emergence of crime and to provide tourists with a safe vacation.