Buckingham Palace with crowds on the Mall

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and other US targets, on 11 September 2001. What is there to be found in the Archive relating to those events?

ICM conducted a poll for Retail Week just two weeks later, with fieldwork between 21 and 23 September 2001, examining the impact of the terrorist attacks on the public’s economic confidence. Whilst 68% of respondents were concerned about the safety and well-being of themselves and their family in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, 94% said these events had made no difference to their plans for any major expenditure. However, when it came to the question of booking a foreign holiday that involves air travel, 30% said they were less likely to do so, compared with 66% who said the terrorist attacks would not influence their decision.

By early October, according to a poll conducted by Gallup on behalf of the Daily Telegraph, 7% of those interviewed said they had cancelled their holiday plans as a result of the terrorist attacks and 36% were more reluctant to travel by air.

MORI conducted a survey two months after the event, in mid-November 2001, on behalf of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), exploring attitudes to flying and foreign holidays. At this point it found that just 3% of respondents had actively rejected going on a holiday abroad because of ‘the current war/terrorism’, whilst a further 13% were delaying a decision until nearer the time before booking one. By contrast, 17% had already booked a foreign holiday and another 47% stated that they intended to do so and that ‘the current war and terrorism will not affect my travel plans’.

In February 2003 the MORI survey was repeated, albeit this time by telephone rather than face-to-face interview. Fieldwork for this exercise was conducted between 28 February and 2 March 2003, nearly 18 months after the 9/11 attacks and in the midst of preparations for the Iraq war, which was launched later in March. In this survey, some 6% of respondents stated they would not be taking an overseas holiday this year because of ‘the current war/terrorism’. A further 17% said that while they intended to take a foreign holiday, they would delay booking it until nearer the time because of the war/terrorism. This seems to represent some hardening of attitudes compared with the November 2001 study, perhaps in part because a war of indeterminate length now seemed imminent, which would not necessarily have been anticipated at the time of the earlier research.

Contributed by Nick Tanner
Date posted: 15th September 2021


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