Destinations’ response to terrorism on Twitter

Danielle Barbe, Lori Pennington-Gray, Ashley Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to understand the online communication strategies used by destination management organizations (DMOs) during a terrorist attack. In particular, this study analyzes Twitter use during seven terrorism incidents in six European cities (Paris, Brussels, Nice, Berlin, London and Barcelona) between 2015 and 2017.

Twitter content was collected via NCapture, a web browser extension of NVivo, one week prior to the attacks, the day of, and two weeks following to determine the timeframe in which DMOs communicated about the crisis, the types of messages being communicated, and whether these messages are effective. This study uses Coombs’ Situational Crisis Communication Theory as a guide to analyzing the effectiveness of the crisis communication strategies.

The findings of this paper indicate that DMOs are not effectively using Twitter during a terrorist attack. Few tweets relating to the attacks provided tourists with information regarding their safety, with the remaining only communicating as victims. Many DMOs went offline in the days immediately following the attacks and each DMO’s crisis communication on Twitter only lasted up to one week following the attacks.

This study provides insight into the ways DMOs are using social media for crisis communication. These results inform DMOs on their responsibility in communicating information during a terrorist attack. Messages of support are useful in the recovery stage, but tourists need information on how to stay safe and Twitter is often the first source people go to for information (Simon et al., 2014).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-512
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Tourism Cities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


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