PATA | Contact

All posts in Tourism Communication Crisis Issues

By Dr. Peter Tarlow from Tourism & More

 

Credit: Tourism & More Inc.

 

TOURISM & MORE’S

 

“TOURISM TIDBITS”

June 2017

Some of the Best Practices in Tourism Security, Risk Management and Crisis Recovery, Part 1

 

This June we shall be holding the 23rd Annual Las Vegas International Tourism Safety and Security conference and in honor of our conference, this month’s Tourism Tidbits focuses on issuesT of security and safety. 

Although the public, media, and politicians expect continuous 100% safety and security, reality is that total security does not exist.  What is true of the non-tourism and travel world is even more so in the world of travel and tourism. Not only are tourism and traveling security problems often more challenging, but the traveling public can also easily be frightened, and in the case of leisure travel decide simply not to visit a specific locale.  Furthermore, many tourism professionals are frighten by the topic and provide more lip service to the subject than real substance.

To help you think through some of the issues and finds methods to confront these ever changing challenges, Tourism Tidbits presents you with the following ideas for your consideration: 

-Never forget that all travel security and safety begins with a sense of hospitality and caring.  Customer service is the foundation of any security program. Employees need to remember that they should not treat others in a way that they would not want others to treat them.  Customers are not the enemy; they are the industry’s raison d’être.  From the moment a traveler leaves his/her home until the moment that s/he returns the industry needs to project an image of we care, of creating an environment in which customers know that they are not prisoners or cattle but respected guests.

-Understand that in most cases (drugs being a major exception) acts of crime and acts of terrorism are different.  It is rare that poverty is a root cause of either crime or terrorism, and the two social illnesses have a very different interaction with tourism.  Crime has a parasitic relationship with tourism that is to say if there is no tourism then there is no tourism crime.  Although, terrorists may use crime as a means to fund their projects, their ultimate goal is the destruction of tourism and the economic prosperity that it produces around the world.

 
-The most effective security is proactive rather than reactive. This means find ways to layer your security and be aware of where the security weaknesses may be.  Know your property layout and remember that there are no 100% safe places in any building Use combinations of a physical security presence plus technology, such as surveillance, makes sure all your bases are covered. 


-Know local laws!  Hoteliers must know their responsibilities for security within local laws and regulations. Knowing whether issues would result in criminal or civil liabilities can influence security protocols.  Be aware of terror trends: Not every attack is the same.  Over the past several years, many terror events have “evolved to be locally inspired or involve locally trained citizens”.  The newest “trends” in attacks against hotels are small-scale, high-body-count attacks that draw global media attention. Nevertheless, do not forget that terrorism is ever changing and what is true this year may be different next year.

-Partner Simple partnerships with local law enforcement are an easy, low-cost way to keep security top of mind. Invite your local police to spend a night in the hotel or have dinner there.  The better the police understand the property’s security and emergency protocols and see the capabilities, the faster they can react in case of an emergency or advise you on simple solutions as to ways to stop and attack before it occurs. Ask your police department to educate hotel staff on what their own capabilities are and what emergencies they can and cannot handle.  Then develop a formal plan with the local police department and be sure that they have a copy of the plan

-Tourism security does not exist in a vacuum.  That means that tourism security is part of the overall local environment.  If a particular city is not safe, then eventually that insecurity will impact the local hotels, attractions and transportation systems.  What that means is that the tourism industry needs not only to ask for protection but also that it needs to work with local community leaders to bring down the overall crime rates.  For example, communicate with local organizations that seek to lower crime rates.  The bottom line is that what takes place outside of the hotel impacts what occurs inside of the hotel. Regular meetings between government officials, tourism officials, and local managers can save time and lives, and it can reduce from what might have been a major incident into a minor one.   In today’s world security not only adds to the bottom line, it can be a major marketing tool.


-Have multiple plans in place prior to an event and not after the event.  In cases of crises, crisis management is essential, but tourism and travel officials need to ask themselves if the crisis might have been lessened in its severity or even avoided if they had had good proactive risk management plans.  Crises come in all sorts of sizes.  A terrorism attack is a crisis on a large scale, but there are a million small inconveniences that government regulators have imposed on tourism that have created a sense of continual mini-crises.  When tourists need to factor terrorism hassles into their travel plans, many people may choose other methods of communication, leaving the industry in a business crisis. The bottom line is that many small personal crises may produce large industry crises.

-In an age of insecurity tourism officials must make sure that their security agents are not only well trained in every aspect of security including the customs and cultural habits of their customers, but also well paid.  For example, some cultures tend to be more trusting than others and different cultures may have distinct patterns for what is acceptable or not for female guests. It is essential that tourism management develop security patterns that meet not only the local environment but also meet the cultural needs of their guests. In a business climate as unstable as the current one, it is essential that security personnel be the best, that they receive regular news updates, and be able to act not only quickly, but in a caring and professional manner with travelers.  It does no good to have people well trained and then leave the field because of low pay.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A special reminder: The XXIV International Las Vegas Tourism Security and Safety Conference is June 12-14.  To register please visit: www.touristsafety.org

Share

Logo from Tourism & More, Inc.

From Tourism & More, Inc.

May 2017

We only have to see photos of people praying in Mecca, visiting the Vatican, washing in the Ganges, or attending a religious festival at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to know that both religion and religious pilgrimages play a major role in tourism.  Religious tourism even bleeds into the world of “secular faith” as proven by the millions of people each year who make a “pilgrimage” to places such as Washington, DC or treat their favorite football team almost as if it were a religious icon

People in the world of tourism should not be surprised by this phenomenon.  Faith based visitations speak directly to the emotions and tourism is all about the “experience” of being there. Although we do not like to think of religion as being connected to business, the reality is that religion is a major business and with a great deal impact for on the tourism industry.  In fact, there is much that tourism professionals can learn from the world of religion and how religion speaks to the very soul of its adherents.

One of the oldest forms of tourism is religious or faith based tourism.  The Bible speaks of ascending to Jerusalem at least three times a years for each of the Biblical harvest festivals.  Likewise the Islamic world is famous for the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. Other cities around the world have developed religious tourism.  People from around the world visit locations such as:  Fatima in Portugal, and Lourdes in France.

Although there are many differences between travel by the faithful to a religious site and a theme park, interestingly enough there are also many parallels between what would appear to be two very different venues.  For example, in modern (and from what we can learn from ancient texts, also in the ancient world) both religious sites and theme parks produce secondary industries.  We only have to visit Rome or Jerusalem to see hundreds of people selling religious souvenirs.  Just as in the days of the Bible, the lodging industry is impacted by religious tourism and in many places lodging grows around a particular pilgrimage site.  Just as in the world of tourism, religious tourism is aimed at a particular audience, in this case, the believer, whose faith turns what might be for a non-believer the secular into the sacred.

Visiting a religious site is an exercise in emotion rather than cognition.  The site may not be beautiful or grandiose but in the eye of the believer such a site is both spiritual and memorable. Religious or faith-based tourism, however, is not only about pilgrimages. Faith based travel may take place for life cycle events, for missionary work, for reasons of humanitarian interest and/or as part of religious conventions and conclaves.

Religious tourism is big business.  It is estimated that in the US alone some 25% of the traveling public is interested in faith-based tourism. When one adds to this the number of people who travel for faith-based conventions, and faith based activities such as weddings, bar mitzvahs or funerals, the number become extraordinarily large. World Religious Travel is one of the fastest growing segments in travel today. Religious travel is estimated at a value of US$18 billion and 300 million travelers strong.  Religious tourism sites bring in considerable revenue.

To help you deal with this growing travel trend.  Here are some essentials to help the busy travel and tourism professional.

 

  • While a recent study tourism does not have to be built around a pilgrimage site. There is no doubt that it helps to have a major religious center, such as Jerusalem, Mecca, or Rome most locales will never have such holy sites.  Lack of a religious center does not mean however that a location cannot develop faith-based tourism.  Florida has created its own Bible land, and multiple cities around the world have found ways to incorporate religious holidays into their tourism product.

 

  • A locale does not need to have a major religious site to be part of religious tourism. Religious tourism is anything that touches the visitor’s soul.  Take an inventory of your local houses of worship and you may discover that they contain not only great items of beauty but are the holders of personal histories and culture.  In a world where people seek both personal genealogies and an understanding of who they are, both local houses of worship and cemeteries may provide a whole new travel experience, that adds not only to your community’s bottom line but provides in-depth experiences.

 

  • Take care of the physical appearance and condition of your religious sites. Emphasis on maintaining sustained tourism with minimal corrosive impact on old and sacred structures and places of worship is imperative. Religion has an enormous sentimental value. The devotees and tourist having a thirst for holy voyages would certainly love to see their religious destination and places of worship well preserved touching the acceptable standards of cleanliness and existence of infrastructural support.

 

  • Religious travel is often less prone to economic ups and downs in the market place. Religious travelers also tend to panic less during periods of political turbulence.  Because faith-based travelers are committed travelers they tend to save for these religious experiences and travel despite the state of the economy or political challenges.

 

  • Faith travelers tend to have different motives for travel then do travelers for other reasons and tend to fear less. For example, faith-based travelers often travel as part of a religious obligation or to fulfill a spiritual mission.  Because faith base travelers tend to be more steadfast in their desire to fulfill what they see as a commitment they can provide a steady flow of income to a local tourism economy.

 

  • The religious and faith-based market have the advantage of appealing to people from around the world, of all ages and of all nationalities. Tourism and travel professionals should be aware that this market might well double by the year 2020.  To add to this number many faith-based travelers prefer to travel in groups rather than as individuals.

 

  • Be Religiously aware!  This means that tourism professionals should consider everything from the types of food served, types of music played to when local activities take place.  As in other forms of tourism it is essential to know the market. For example, airlines that do not offer vegetarian meals may lose a portion of the faith-based market whose religion has specific food restrictions.

 

  • Connect your local secondary industries with your faith-based tourism.  All too often the spirituality that visitors seek is lost at the level of supporting industries.  During faith based tourism periods it is essential that hotels and restaurants connect with the arts and cultural communities to develop an overall faith based product rather than a mishmash of unrelated offerings.
Share

 

Tourism-and-more

 

 

Facing both old and new security challenges

 

The first quarter of 2017 began in ways that were not that different from the end of 2016.  The tourism industry continues to be a target of terrorism and acts of crime.  For example, France has recently faced a series of attacks, some successful and some thankfully stopped.  Terrorism continues to be a problem in much of the Middle East and crime and violence continue to stalk Latin America.   Brazil has had the additional problem of a police strike in one of its northern cities.  Often these actions are highly publicized and this negative publicity in turn encourages those who seek violence. Acts of violence do not only cause death and destruction but are intimately tied to economic undulations.  Because tourism, and much of travel, is dependent not only on economic realities but also on economic perceptions, what occurs in the economy impacts the entire tourism world. It is still too early to note the impact of the ”Trump effect” on the long-term national and international economy.  We may hesitantly predict that European economies (and the euro) will continue to weaken. Europe suffers not only from post-immigration stress, but also from deep demographic problems combined with a lack of resources. The continent is wedged in between an ascending United States and a Russia that is flexing its muscles.  How these economic and political realities will impact European tourism will be fascinating to observe.

 

For this reason tourism officials will need to be much more sophisticated in the way that they view the world.  It is no longer viable for tourism and travel officials to receive their information from only one source. In the US and Europe with the collapse of the classical media, more and more of travel and tourism’s customers receive their news from social and non-traditional media outlets.  Tourism and travel professionals must take into account that political instability is now a major concern in Africa and Latin America, with the Middle East, Europe, and North America open to terrorism attacks and Latin America still suffering from high levels of crime and drug trafficking.  Brazil, along with much of Latin America, is suffering from both issues of crime and issues of health and sanitation.

 

An additional problem, especially in the field of tourism security (or better stated: tourism wellbeing) is the fact that salaries remain low causing both recruitment and personnel retention challenges.  High turnover levels make training difficult and often each time a person leaves, the information is lost.  To make matters even more challenging these are often the person with whom visitors come in contact.  The formula tends to guarantee low job satisfaction and low levels of customer satisfaction.  If tourism is to be a sustainable product then it needs to turn part-time jobs into careers without pricing itself out of the market. If the travel and tourism industry hopes to continue to grow it will need trained personnel, and a willing and enthusiastic workforce at every level from the managerial, to skilled workers to the semi-skilled worker.

 

  • Turning to issues of tourism wellbeing.  We note the following problems:
  • Issues of gang violence
  • Issues of health and the potential spread of contagious diseases leading to pandemics
  • Issues of crime spilling into centers
  • Issues of acts of terrorism
  • Media produced panics or psychological panics.

 

Many of these problems may occur in places that are open to:

 

  • The generation of mass casualties
  • Hold some form of national or international iconic value
  • Are easily accessed by the media
  • And in the case of terrorism, the long-term consequences are not only in the physical harm done to the victims but also in the economic hard that impacts the tourism industry directly and other local industries indirectly.

 

Here are some of the basics of terrorism and tourism about which that travel and tourism officials need to be aware:

 

Not all attacks against tourism need to be violent.  Terrorists do not only need to use deadly force, they can create a tourism crisis by means of cyber attacks, social media or simply creating rumors that create fear within the traveling public.  In today’s media interconnected world news spreads at extremely rapid speeds and can cause fear and cancellations not only at a particular locale but also across the globe.

-Despite the publicity and the media, statistically terrorism still strikes relatively few people and even fewer tourists.  The death of anyone is tragic, but a visitor is more likely to die from a road accident of a safety hazard then from an act of terrorism.  On the other hand, it is rare for the media to spend a great deal of time on road accidents. Tourism centers need to develop good media plans and have them in reserve so that if an incident should occur they are not developing a plan at the last minute.

-When acts of terrorism do occur tourism is often a magnet for terrorists.  Not only does tourism provide many “weak targets: but tourism values are the antithesis of terrorists’ values. Furthermore, the tourism industry is so large and diverse that it provides multiple targets for those seeking to create economic chaos.

-Thus the tourism industry faces a paradox.  Although most tourists are never impacted by acts of terrorism, when it does occur the media publicity is such that the reporting on terrorist attack’s impact is out of proportion to the act itself. Due to high levels of publicity a terrorist attack in any one location raises traveler anxiety levels around the world.  Due to the fact that terrorism is now a worldwide phenomena, an attack in any one location means that visitors are not only increasingly fearful but that these attacks may cause people to cease to travel or to travel less, thus impacting the entire industry.

-Attacks against non-tourist specific locations still act as passive attacks on tourism.  Terrorism is based on fear and the greater the public fears being away from home, the more precarious is the tourism industry’s situation.  Terrorists do not need to target a tourism industry actively to do it damage, a passive attack or a failed, but publicized attack is still a success from the terrorists’ perspective.

-Terrorism is no longer confined to major tourism centers.  The California terrorism incident demonstrates that terrorism can occur in what may have previously been considered unlikely locales.  This means that areas that were considered “safe” need to also develop counter terrorism plans.

 

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. From Tourism & More, Inc.

Share

 

November 02 2015 – The Indonesian government wants to reclaim land in Benoa Bay to develop international tourism. Locals say it will destroy their villages and way of life, forcing fishermen to give up their livelihoods and instead become souvenir sellers. Jeremy Smith Read more.

November 01 2015 – A group of refugees in Berlin have banded together to map key resources across the city, including counseling, healthcare, German language lessons, accommodation, legal assistance, police and public transport facilities. Jeremy Smith Read more.

 

October 26 2015 – Indigenous communities are protesting the expansion of Suriname’s international airport. The airport has obtained title to the neighbouring, indigenous land, and wants to expell most of the population of the Arawak villages Hollandse Kamp and Witsanti. Indigenous people reject the airport’s claim that they are the trespassers. Jeremy Smith Read more.

October 21 2015 – Following the earthquake that struck Nepal earlier this year, many in the country’s tourism industry, supported by friends and colleagues from around the world, began to collaborate on ideas and solutions for how to get its tourism industry back on its feet as quickly as possible. Jeremy Smith Read more.

 

October 16 2015 – A new initiative has been launched in the city of Kozhikode in Kerala, which aims to ensure the city lives by the mantra of how responsible tourism should work in destinations: Better places to live, Better places to visit. Jeremy Smith Read more.

 

October 14 2015 – Operation Makesafe is a joint initiative between the Metropolitan Police and Westminster City Council that aims to train staff to spot the signs of CSE. Radisson Blu Hotels and Resorts is the first major business in Westminster to undergo the training, with others expected to participate in the coming weeks.  Read more.

October 01 2015 – This year’s World Tourism Day theme ‘1 Billion Tourists – 1 Billion Opportunities’ sounds like a slogan for an advert to entice consumers to buy a product like a laundry detergent or hamburger. The UNWTO invites us to celebrate 1 billion tourist arrivals per year and the seemingly unlimited growth of the travel and tourism industry; it is hoped that by 2030, almost 2 billion people will have embraced the tourist lifestyle. Travindy Read more.