How to travel safe in 2020? Do not panic

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US President Trump addresses American People and Iran

There are new realities this decade for travelers and the travel and tourism industry when it comes to safety and security.

Tourism is the ability to enjoy traveling and visiting new destinations and attractions. Positive travel experience is not to look over your shoulder and to be in fear. Tourism is about hospitality: Good hospitality comes from taking care of our guests.

Tourism, terrorism, and war are also big business.

The new decade did not begin quietly in the world of tourism. Travelers in the Gulf region are in a state of fear,  Puerto Rico experienced a devastating earthquake that not only killed at least one person but also knocked out the island’s electric grid.

Ottawa, Canada experienced a shooting.

The 40-Year war between the United States and Iran entered into a new and possibly dangerous phase.

A Ukrainian passenger plane crashed after taking off from Teheran,  killing all 176 passengers. 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, and 11 Ukrainians died in the crash, according to a tweet from Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko.

Wednesday morning U.S. President Trump addressed the American people and the world including Iran minutes ago saying no American was killed in the attack on US populated military basis yesterday.

President Trump opened a window for Iran to communicate and work together and at the same time announced severe sanctions and praising the Iranian heritage and people.

This is a big challenge and also an opportunity for the global travel and tourism industry as well.

eTN Safertourism  Dr. Peter Tarlow has the following feedback on today’s realities 

Although there does not appear to be any connection between the Iranian missile attack and the airplane’s crash, headlines such as “Death in the Air”  was bound to create an unconscious sense of unease among the traveling public.

This on-again/off-again war of economic activities, words, and bullets entered a new phase with the Iranian missile attack against United States forces in Iraq.  Historians in future years will find much to analyze and to debate as to the causes, blame and consequences of this newest chapter in these ongoing decades-old hostilities.

This article does not intend to analyze this forty-year war but merely to view the ongoing hostilities from the perspective of the travel and tourism industry.

Tourism is dependent on a number of factors, among which is a safe and secure environment.  Visitors have choices and when issues of crime, terrorism, or health enter into the picture, visitors might well choose another location.  The travel and tourism industry has long had an almost love-hate relationship with the safety and security industry. All too often travel and tourism professionals have paid nothing more than lip service to tourism security issues, except when these issues become major news stories and there is then the fear of losing both reputations and clientele.  Reassessing Tourism Security

Historians of tourism might someday call our reaction to tourism security and our ability (or inability) to protect the traveling public tourism’s defining moment.  Despite what many people think tourism security is a great deal more than merely adding extra regulations onto an already frustrated traveling public. Tourism security is a complicated subject that combines both passive elements such as CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras, psychological and sociological knowledge, and active public policy development.   Because travel and tourism cross national borders, what affects one nation may well impact the entire world.  It is therefore essential that tourism professionals continually interact with tourism security professionals and update their policies in a way that allows the traveling public to know that the tourism industry cares.  Here are a few suggestions on things that the industry might want to consider

  • Do not panic.  Headlines come and go and what appears to be a major crisis on day one might be less of a crisis on the “day after the day after”. Before making any decision gather as much information as possible from various news sources and take into account that media people also have both conscious and unconscious biases.
  •  Know that good tourism security is an essential part of twenty-first-century marketing.  Tourism professionals need to demand that their conference organizers provide them with the basics of tourism security if they are to compete in the twenty-first century.   Simply put if there is no tourism security then eventually there will be nothing left to the market.
  • Learn from others and then adapt to your local needs. There is much that we can learn from Israeli security techniques when it comes to travel.  For example, airline passengers traveling to and from Israel do not have to go through many of the indignities that Western fliers must endure, and yet these same passengers are considered a lot safer, both on the ground and in the air.   Part of Israel’s success comes from studying what others do and then adapting these techniques to local needs. Good tourism security provides travelers with a high level of professionalism, the best of interrogation techniques coupled with the best of high tech and good training. Tourism industries around the world need to learn how to follow suit.
  • Crime and terrorism are not the same. In travel and tourism, criminals need the tourism industry with which they maintain a parasitic relationship.   While crime gnaws at the heart of the tourism industry, it does not seek to destroy it. Indeed, many forms of organized crime have traditionally found tourism to be a convenient way to launder money. Terrorism, on the other hand, seeks to destroy tourism. Its goal is to separate people and inflict as much economic damage as possible in order to destroy a locale’s economic viability as part of an overall war strategy against modernity.
  • Terrorism is a chronic problem that will most likely be with us for a long time.  Despite what the politicians say, and the public may demand, travel and tourism can never be made 100% terrorism proof.  The most we can hope to do is develop smart and creative ways to frustrate terrorism. The Israelis have offered the world an important lesson that has not yet been learned: tourism security is not about focusing on bad things but rather intercepting bad people.
  • Terrorists are not stupid and know how to be innovative. The Christmas Day terrorist attack should be seen as another example that counter security cannot simply rely on the same security measures.  Tourism security requires both creativity and innovation.
  • Overreactions are the terrorists’ best friends.  Despite the fact that the airplane landed safety from a tourism perspective the terrorist still won.  He succeeded in frightening the public and making travel less desirable and more difficult. Terrorism is different than a criminal act. The goal of terrorism is the destruction of national economies.  Because tourism is a major world industry and provides numerous job opportunities around the world travel and tourism are and will continue to be prime terrorist targets. Terrorists know that an attack against travel and tourism will not only hurt multiple economies but will also receive a great deal of publicity, thus further damaging the victim’s economy.
  • Understand what tourism security is all about. There are far too many security professionals who know security but do not know how to “translate” security concepts into tourism needs.  On the other side of the ledger, tourism professionals are often woefully ignorant of how tourism security, surety, and safety work.  Because most tourism professionals have been trained in marketing, they are often confused as to what steps they should and should not take, and how they should interact with security professionals.  Many tourism professionals know so little about the subject that they do not know even the correct questions to ask.
  • Attend one of the tourism security conferences around the world.  Las Vegas will hold its yearly tourism security on April 26-29th Attending a security conference permits tourism officials, police officers, and other security professionals to learn about the newest trends and dynamics within the tourism industry and to exchange ideas and concepts. As often security professional budgets are tight, consider giving a scholarship a police officer or other tourism security professional’s registration and/or airfare.
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Never forget that no cost savings is worth a life. Tourism security is not just about safe travel. It is about saving lives.  When developing a tourism-marketing plan, never forget that we can pull a bad promotion campaign, change an ad, or find a new slogan, but we can never replace a life. Tourism is about hospitality and good hospitality comes from taking care of our guests.

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