On a sunny morning of September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists, working in teams of 4 or 5, hijacked 4 commercial jet liners and turned them toward targets chosen for destruction. 2 of the planes loaded with fuel and passengers were flown at full speed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. These buildings burst into flames moments later and collapsed, killing thousands. A third terrorist crew and their plane smashed into the Pentagon, headquarters of the United stated military. The fourth hijacked plane was intended for an equally important national facility in Washington DC, but was resisted by the brave passengers on board the plane.
Where were you, what were you doing on that day, can you recall? I still remember vividly, what I was doing before the incidence that was to change the face of international relations and tourism occurred. I was barely 2 weeks old in my new place of employment, a media house in Lagos, Minaj Broadcast International (MBI). On that day the head news had asked me to help monitor news for the News Department, so I was snooping for news when CNN flashed the breaking news, together with footages of events as they unfolded in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
I am sure; the events of 9/11 will be indelibly inscribed on the minds and hearts of millions, if not billions of the earth’s inhabitants. Todd Beamer and friend’s heroic resistance of the fourth plane from heading to it’s target in Washington DC will not be forgotten in a hurry. We equally remember the families of those fire fighters who lost their lives while trying to save that of others. Fire fighters like James Amato a father of 4 children, and a captain in the New York Fire Department, he was a courageous man. George DiPascuale also paid with his life, as he tried to save others. Infact, he was on the 10th floor of the south tower when it collapsed. These are just 2 of the hundreds of fire fighters, policemen and emergency workers who lost their lives as they valiantly tried to rescue people.
It has been 8 years since, that nerve racking, heart-rending incidence occurred. Since then our lives have never been the same, neither is the way we relate, nor do business, especially traveling and tourism. No doubt all sectors of the global economy was affected but the one that received the most bashing, the most blows and almost brought to its knees was the traveling and tourism industry. Since the 9/11 incidence traveling has not been the same experience. Some major airlines were yet to recover from the loss occasioned by that incidence, just as we have not been able to shake the shock off completely. Civilization is yet to recover from the shock of 9/11, if nothing it has exposed the vulnerability of all of us. That wealth and superstructures that our forebears toiled to build can be destroyed within a twinkle of an eye by a few disgruntled or misguided youths. But on the positive side the 9/11 tragedies brought out in all of us, Americans and non-Americans alike better qualities, namely self-sacrifice, compassion, endurance, and unselfishness.
Each time I as well as others, millions at that, board a flight, be it local, within Nigeria or international flights, we always have at the back of our minds the possibility that one or a few of us can hijack the plane and run us all into a major facility and end our lives there. I have joined the club of fearful fliers.
But all tourists are working hard to put the incidence behind them, gradually we are coming out of our shells, yes the statistics indicated so. They show that tourism will not let such incidences change the way that traveling business is done.
No doubt air safety consciousness have increased since the 9/11 incidence, that indeed is comforting to nervous travelers (tourists) and the tourism industry, but can we prevent a repeat of 9/11? That is the question that is going through my mind as we remember this dark day in human history.