Social Trust, Safety and the Choice of Tourist Destination

Susanne Jensen, Gert Tinggaard Svendsen


Does social trust influence safety and tourists’ destination choice? Our claim is that the roots of safety may take two forms: either formal institutions or informal institutions. Formal institutions concern how society can build up control mechanisms through the legal system, police authority and military. The problem is that high visibility of police and military in public spaces may give the tourist the impression of an unsafe and insecure destination. Instead, social trust through self-enforcements of social norms for behaviour may be important because the informal institutions guarantee the safety of tourists (and locals) without signalling a problem with safety. Building social trust may further enhance the feeling of safety and thereby attract even more tourists. Thus, our trust-safety theory may guide the active use of social trust by tourist officials and policy makers.

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