Master of Education in Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies Graduate Projects


With the yearly increase of travelers around the world, tourist fatalities continue to rise. As seen before with infectious diseases, the proper evaluation of the diseases causing tourist mortality and the creation of effective preventive plans has helped to decrease tourist mortality from these ailments. The objective of this study is to identify the types of pre-death activities leading to trauma-based tourist fatalities, contributing factors in fatal incidents, and the demographic trends of the tourist fatalities. The findings reinforce industry trends from previous studies, implying that the creation of a tourist fatality database would have large levels of effectiveness in the creation of preventive and educational plans to significantly decrease the number of trauma-based tourist fatalities. Between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2015, there were 3,121 tourist fatalities reports. As seen with many other studies, transportation-based fatalities were among the highest recorded with 875 (28%) incidents. However, this study concluded that water-based activities, specifically swimming and boating, are now the largest cause of mortality with 1,035 (33.2%) reported. Nearly half (49.4%) of the fatalities recorded took place in Asian countries, followed by European (15.3%) and African (14.6%) countries. The study also found that Asian tourists accounted for the highest number of fatalities (37.1%), followed by European (17.9%) and American (7.9%) tourists. Press releases report on a biased standard, focusing on tourist fatalities that have shock value, rather than reporting on tourists dying of natural causes or illnesses. As seen in previous tourist fatality studies, the data collected lacks an accurate denominator to calculate the actual rate of fatalities. This does not take away from the significance of this study’s findings, as this information is valuable to medical practitioners, travel medicine, and the travel industry as a whole for aiding in the reduction of tourist mortality worldwide.


Travis Heggie

Second Reader

Bingjie Liu








Leisure & Tourism