It looks like many Covid-19 travel restrictions around the world are slowly being lifted and tourism is starting to return to normal. Most employees and guests want their vacation and work environment to be a safe and secure place where no one has to worry about street crime, tourist crime, trouble or rage and poor interpersonal relationships .
In the post-Covid world, an additional requirement is that the venue be sanitary and disease-free. The last thing the average visitor wants to worry about is being the victim of a crime or illness while on vacation. Yet crimes and diseases do happen, and when they do happen, a lot of time and effort must be spent repairing the damage done to the psyche, to people’s lives, and to the image of the place.
Visitors often let their guard down. Indeed, the word vacation comes in English from the French word “vacancy” which means “vacant” or “empty”. The holidays are therefore a period from which we free ourselves from the daily stress of life and seek a period of mental and physical relaxation. Most people think of vacations as “their time,” meaning a time when someone else can do it for them.
While tourists often let their guard down, the same can be said of many people employed in the travel and tourism industry. Tourism and travel workers often enter their profession because it is considered glamorous and fun. While most travel and tourism jobs are hard work, it’s easy to get caught up in the merriment of the profession and let your guard down and thus become a victim of rage and/or crime.
Safer Tourism offers you a potpourri of ideas to make your tourism environment as safe as possible, whether that environment is a hotel/motel or a tourist attraction, consider some of the following.
– A police presence is a double-edged sword. A visible font can serve as a “psychological” security blanket. On the other hand, too much presence or a heavy police presence may lead a tourist to wonder why such a large force is needed. The solution to this dilemma is often twofold. Tourism safety/security specialists can use “soft” uniforms that identify them while being part of the local culture. To further enhance guest safety and security, every employee at a hotel/motel or tourist attraction/resort should consider themselves a member of the property’s safety and security team.
– Offer special tourism training to your police force. A police officer can be an asset to your tourism industry. A special training program for your community’s police should include: the economic and social impact of tourism on their community, an onboarding program on how to deal with foreigners, and an information pack on tourist facilities and attractions within the community. Research shows that cities that generate a lot of money from tourism have the most to lose if their police forces make a mistake.
– Use your information services as an implicit crime-fighting tool. Even in cities with high crime rates, crime tends to be highly concentrated in small geographic areas. Use your information services, and in particular your city maps, to direct tourists to the safest routes between attractions. Train employees to take an active rather than passive role in advising visitors of the best (safest) routes to take and modes of transportation to use.
– Have a plan of action to deal with tourists who are victims of crime or succumb to disease. Even in the safest places, crime can happen. This is the time to give the tourist all the TLC possible. The actions of the tourism professional can create a situation where the victimized tourist leaves with a positive attitude towards local hospitality rather than harsh criticism. Remember that a bad experience that isn’t fixed is the worst form of publicity for the tourism industry.
– Prepare for greater litigation in the world of tourism and travel. Hotels/motels should be especially wary of guests suing them for lack of background checks, improper training of employees in tourism safety and security techniques, and poor control of room keys and unguarded entrances.
– Develop safety standards for your hotel/motel and attraction. These standards should contain policies on who can and cannot enter the premises and what type of non-human surveillance systems will be used. Other policies should include the type of lighting to be used, outside vendors who will be allowed access and who will check their backgrounds, type of parking lot security that will be used, baggage room security not only against theft but also acts of terrorism.
– Expect fraud issues to increase as the public starts to travel again. Fraud will become an even more important part of the security component of tourism. In the old days, tourism was all about traveling and sightseeing, but in today’s world, the biggest tourist activity is shopping. Indeed, shopping is no longer a by-product of tourism, it is now a tourist attraction in itself. Additionally, many large shopping malls and hotels are “anchored” by large multinational conglomerates that often achieve minimal loyalty among employees. The rise of shopping means that sellers are now frontline fighters in the war against fraud and shoplifting. Often these people don’t make the connection between the theft and their lost wages and may even be willing to look the other way. To help prevent credit card fraud and other purchase-inspired crime, make sure people who work with the public not only understand how to identify purchase-related crime, but also lose out when it happens. others steal.
– Be prepared to deal with workplace violence. Travel and tourism is hard work and often requires taking some “abuse” from angry customers. This anger can lead to delayed workplace violence. Take the time to know some of the signs of workplace violence and realize that any form of hitting, shoving, sexual assault, intimidation, threats or harassment can be construed as workplace violence.
– Watch for signs of stress in employees and guests. Stress often comes from feeling out of control or not knowing what to do. Make sure employees know who to talk to and that there is a listening ear. Make sure employees and visitors know what to do in an emergency. List emergency numbers in multiple languages and large font sizes. Provide personal safety advice and never forget to apologize if something goes wrong. Often crimes can be prevented when we stop making excuses and focus on repair.
Contact the TravelNewsGroup to speak to the author, Dr Peter Tarlow, President of the World Tourism Network.