There are many reasons why visitors travel to different countries, but what is less well understood is why the do not travel. In this study, we investigate the performance of the tourism industry in terms of tourist arrivals in the presence of three factors that is likely to discourage tourism activity: terrorism, crime and corruption. We do this for 171 countries for the period 1995–2013. We use two types of analysis: two-dimensional and three-dimensional. The two-dimensional analysis use total tourist arrivals per destination. This analysis suggests that terrorism and crime have a negative effect on tourist arrivals but corruption has no significant effect. We also consider whether the effect of instability on tourist arrivals might differ according to the purpose of the trip. Our results suggest that the effects of terrorism and crime are larger for tourism for personal reasons than for business trips, but corruption only affects business tourism. This is the expected result since tourist destinations are easier to substitute when the purpose of the trip is for leisure or other personal reasons than for business. After a terrorist attack or an increase in crime, tourists might choose a safer destination with characteristics similar to their first choice or they might just stop travelling if the purpose of the trip is for personal reasons. However, when the main purpose of the trip is business between countries with a strong economic relationship, the destination cannot be easily substituted.