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Let’s All Go to Tunisia

Let’s All Go to Tunisia

By: Danny Judge

As I write this article, Paris is still sweeping up the fragments of Friday. French police are still pursuing the alleged ‘mastermind’. And the world is still scrambling to piece together how it all happened. But I don’t care about that.

I don’t care about President Hollande’s declaration of war upon IS. I don’t care about the changing of Facebook profile pictures to French flags. I still don’t care about the political posturing of politicians.

As I write this article, Paris is still sweeping up the fragments of Friday. French police are still pursuing the alleged ‘mastermind’. And the world is still scrambling to piece together how it all happened. But I don’t care about that.

I don’t care about President Hollande’s declaration of war upon IS. I don’t care about the changing of Facebook profile pictures to French flags. I still don’t care about the political posturing of politicians.

I care about what happens next.

The substantial loss of life sustained in Paris from the latest attack will have a knock-on effect that will ripple across Europe for weeks, months, even years. It’s not just the victims’ families who will suffer. The tourism industry within France will suffer. The tourism industry in countries affected by terrorism will suffer. Jobs will be lost. And the threat of terrorism could rise.

Radical and extremist ideologies typically find more support with people unable to engage with society. They resonate with those who are not included within the mainstream, as we've seen in attacks such as 7/7 attacks or the 2011 Norwegian attacks by Anders Breivik.  Those who, for one reason or another, turn to violent groups to answer their problems because they don't have enough money to support themselves or their families. Regrettably, this is often due to a lack of job because of high unemployment caused by key sector of a country's economy collapsing.

Tunisia is a prime example of how terrorism can destabilise a country's economy. Prior to the beach massacre in June the country’s tourism sector was booming. It accounted for 370,000 jobs, and their great natural landscapes and beaches had seen a rise in both spa and ecotourism. The former Minister of Tourism Ahmed Smaou had described tourism as having ‘a great future ahead of us’, and the New York Times had hailed the country for ‘its golden beaches, sunny weather, and affordable luxuries’.

This is no longer the case. Tunisia has seen a dramatic drop of one million tourists visiting this year compared with 2014. The country has been in a state of emergency since the attacks in prominent tourist town Sousse. Unemployment has skyrocketed with tour operators rushing to cancel packages amidst governments' warning against visiting.

This is what the terrorists want. By targeting the tourism industry in any country, not just Tunisia or Paris, it will have the desired effect of destabilising that sector of economy. It will lead to unemployment as tourists refuse to come. It will lead to an increasing number of people disengaged with society as they have no work, no money, no place to live. And it will lead to an increase in homegrown terrorists in these countries.

If we truly want to stop the horror of IS, then we don’t need to focus all of our efforts on bombing strongholds and troops. That’s the business of governments and their military might. As citizens of the world, we need to attack the problem at its ever-clawing tentacles. We need to go to Tunisia. We need to visit Paris. We need to spend money in Pakistan. We have a duty to go on holiday, enjoy ourselves, and not withdraw our money from countries hit by terrorism.

Without travel and exposure to foreign places and people, we're more likely to become increasingly xenophobic and distrustful of 'others'. This can't be the case. We must visit other countries and spread a political message of unity between nations. With the New Yorker reporting back in August that a significant proportion of IS recruits are from middle-class or affluent families alongside the disillusioned, there's never been a more important time to visit abroad and convince people of all faiths and class that we're all human together. We all have sleepless nights, we all worry about our job, we all strive to survive. Withdrawing from a country because of a threat of terrorism will only escalate the problematic idea of 'us vs them'; and that's something that cannot be allowed to happen.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill’s most memorable quote, to fight the dangers of extremism we must relax on Tunisia’s beaches. We need to drink coffee in Pakistan. We cannot fail to party in the fields and streets of Paris. Whatever the cost may be, we should never surrender to terrorism's aims of spreading fear and hatred. For now and forever, we’ll offer #porteouverte to those in need. Viva la foreign holiday.