TOURISM RISK MANAGEMENT IN AN AGE OF TERRORISM
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When historians write the history of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, they may note that the greatest risk to the Olympic Games of 2010 was the weather rather than a terrorism attack. These same hypothetical historians may note how tragic it was that once again the world was relived that no reported acts of terrorism occurred during the games. In today’s world, tourism and major events are “big business” and are very much a part of many locales’ economies.
The term risk management is not an easy to define. The Business Dictionary defines it as: “Policies, procedures, and practices involved in identification, analysis, assessment, control, and avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks. A firm may use risk assumption, risk avoidance, risk retention, risk transfer, or any other strategy (or combination of strategies) in proper management of future tourism.” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/risk-management.html: April 3, 2010).
Why Analyzing Tourism Risks is Difficult
To add to the difficulties in analyzing tourism and travel risks, there is no one standard or predictable risk to the tourism industry. Instead, tourism risks are ever changing and vary from one locale to another. Tourism risks may be acts of violence, acts of nature, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, or health issues such as a pandemic. Even these are not clean-cut delineations. For example, the use of bio-chemicals in warfare means that even when tourism is dealing with what may appear to be merely a health risk, the threat that such a health problem was also a clandestine form of terrorism is always possible.
Do Economically Hard Times Cause e Rise in Tourism Crimes?
The belief that tourism crimes will rise during difficult economic times may well be predicated on a Robin Hood scenario (EL Diario de Coahuila, page 1, April 6, 2010). In this scenario good poor people are driven to crimes due to the ostentatious behavior of rich tourists. Yet, one’s proclivity toward crime may well be determined more by morals than by economics. There are few people who cannot think of “good” poor people who simply do not rob, and of “bad” rich people who do rob. Ethics may be a far greater determining factor in our tendency to commit crimes than is the size of our bank account.
Terrorism and Tourism
Risk management a difficult term to define, and risk management in an age of terrorism is almost beyond the scope of definability. The term terrorism is not easy to define. For example, Tarlow has noted that, "There is no general consensus as to who is a terrorist or what the definition of terrorism is.” (Tarlow, p. 79, Tourism in Turbulent Times, 2006) Furthermore, despite the millions of dollars spent on both applied and research models since the September 2001 attacks, all too often terrorism while better understood is still to a great extent unpredictable in both time and place. Classical terrorism predictive models assume some form of terrorist consistency, yet as the Moscow subway attacks of March 2010 show, terrorists have several major advantages over their adversaries. Among the terrorists’ advantages are:
Terrorism seeks to turn back the clock while arguing for liberal causes; as such we may call it a form of pre-modernism. The key terrorist goals according to US Federal Emergency Management Agency are: “Create fear among the public, try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism, get immediate publicity for their cause.” (http://www/fema.gov/about/index.shtm, 2006). As such, terrorism is a modern ideological creation that seeks to destroy modernity. Although each terrorist group is different, all terrorist groups share certain common themes. Among these are: (1) women are used as an instrument of war, but usually have no place for women or women’s rights once victory is achieved; (2) terrorism is based on the ideals of the in-group and the out-group. (3) Terrorism judges people by the group to which they belong rather than as seeing them as individuals; (4) terrorism tends to be anti-capitalist and the accumulation of worldly goods; terrorism is xenophobic and discourages dialogue with the other. Finally, (5) terrorism is based on the principle of no-compromise. Its goal is total victory. While terrorism may be willing to take pauses within a battle for the purpose of achieving a military victory, terrorism does not accept the idea of permanent compromise. Because terrorism is ideologically based, the other’s position must be declared as immoral. Tourism, almost by definition, then is the opposite of terrorism. Women hold major tourism positions throughout the world; the industry is based on individuals' experiences (called customer service) and is 180-degrees in the opposite direction from a xenophobic world.
Tourism, Terrorism, and the Media
Just as the tragic journalism adage “if it bleeds it leads” is often all too true so is the reality that terrorism attacks against any form of tourism and/or convention centers make great news stories. This negative publicity then aids terrorists whose primary goal is the destruction of a local economy
Terrorist attack negative publicity
Terrorist success Fewer tourists to locale
Such problems become even more apparent when there is a great deal of publicity such as that surrounding a major sporting, entertainment, or political event. For example, Brazil will host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Newspapers report that: “the city has budgeted $14.4 billion to the effort, the largest amount of any of the four finalists, according to IOC figures.” (http://www.squidoo.com/rio-olympics, April 6, 2010)
During these sporting events its tourism risk managers will then be put in the unenviable position of preparing for an action for which they must hope will not occur.
Tourism is dependent on issues of security. While people may want to travel, they require security and safety. In their book, The Tourism System, Mill and Morrison (1985) refer to Maslow’s classical needs theory (1985) and note that safety and security are second only to physiological needs (hunger, thirst, rest activity) on the scale of needs. In the world of tourism, where often leisure travelers can choose to go somewhere else or simply stay home this need for security becomes paramount.
Both land and sea based tourism risk managers must continuously take into account not only a potential loss of life but also the cost to property and reputation.
Developing a tourism risk management plan in an age of terrorism
The following are some of the basic assumptions found in any good tourism risk management program in an age of terrorism.
Some Risk Management issues in an Age of terrorism
The Food Supply and Delivery Systems
Ever since September 11, 2001 a great deal of emphasis has been placed on issues of tourism security. Scholars have debated airline regulations, event and risk management and crowd control. A great deal of time has been spent on tourism’s defenses against acts of terrorism versus the problems posed due to high crime rates. There is no doubt that numerous tourism locales around the world have had to deal with tourism security issues from kidnappings to crimes of distractions, from hotel invasions to piracy on the high seas. All of the above topics are deserving of our attention. An area that is now receiving more attention than in the past is the relationship to food safety, travel, tourism and potential acts of terrorism. Although safety and security are two very different concepts when it comes to issues of food it is necessary to use both words as in the world of tourism and food delivery both are relevant terms. In fact in 2009 food terrorism toped the safety scare list
(http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Food-terrorism-tops-2009-safety-scare-list, April 7, 2010). Both terms are essential when we speak about food production, preparation, and service. The average tourist/visitor or patron at a public eating establishment often knows nothing or next to nothing about the personal history of the people preparing the food that s/he consumes. Patrons at restaurants, official state dinners or on cruises simply assume that the people who prepare and serve the food that they are eating are both honest, healthy and desire them no harm. In most cases this assumption proves to be correct. Yet food has long been used as a weapon. For example, medieval kings “employed” assayers or royal food tasters. Often called “sewers” these were royal tasters who not only made sure that the food placed before the King was of sufficient quantity and to his liking, but also demonstrated that the food was not poisoned. It is interesting to note that today the word “sewer” means the place where garbage is sent. Is there a connection between the idea of the sewer being the royal taster and the place to which excess garbage/water goes? A synonym for sewer is salvor. Derived from the Latin word salvus (safe) the medieval salvor’s job was to make sure that his master was not poisoned.
Food safety is a lot more then making sure that no one poisons a king. In this period of mass travel and tourism food is an essential part of the travel experience be the traveler an airline passenger, on a cruise ship, attending a convention, or eating at a public eating establishment such as a restaurant or food booth.
Tourism depends on a safe and reliable food supply. Tourists and visitors cannot often go to local markets to buy food supplies and usually need to depend on restaurants or other public places to purchase food. Furthermore, tourists have minimal resources to check on food quality, especially in busy airports and train stations. Because tourism and travel depend so heavily on food safety and security this field also provides major fodder for the media. For example, the food scares, such as 2008’s outbreak of contaminated milk in China (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/19/china), April 7, 2010), serve to underline the important interconnection between tourism and food safety. While tourism experts are not expected to be specialists in food safety they do need to be aware that food safety issues are more than merely making sure that the mayonnaise is refrigerated. In reality, food safety and tourism security have been linked ever since the dawn of travel. Even a superficial study of the food industry reveals that it IS vulnerable on almost all levels.? REREAD THIS YOU SAY O.S. LAMAR BUT QUOTE FROM ANOTHER PERSON For example O.S. Lamar writing for Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University states: "Fortunately, bioterrorism is very rare, although it is a threat," said Mateeva, an assistant professor in the Chemistry Department at Florida A&M University. "But when I hear about natural food-borne illness outbreaks"—like the dioxin incident that caused a widespread pork recall in Ireland in late 2008—"it brings home how vulnerable we are. A would-be terrorist could easily acquire toxins and deliver a lot of damage through food and water." (http://www.famu.edu/DOR_division_of_research/FAMU%20Faculty%20and%20Students%20Detecting%20Foul%20Play%20in%20the%20Food%20Chain.pdf). April 7, 2010)
From processing until delivery to the table, food for human and animal consumption goes through a number of hands, machines and processes. Tracing where food may have been contaminated is difficult and when we must distinguish between accidental food contamination and terrorist contamination geared toward a political purpose the task becomes monumental. Restaurants are vulnerable for still another reason: they are icons of their society or of another society. For example, it is almost impossible to separate a pizzeria from Italian culture OR of a croissant from French culture.
We can, thus, ask multiple questions concerning food safety and security, among these are:
In our post-modern and global world the issue of food safety and security becomes continually more complicated. For example, the US Congressional Research Service for the Library of Congress published a major paper on Agro-terrorism. The CRS defined 'agro-terrorism' as a subset of bio-terrorism in which diseases are introduced into the food supply for the expressed purpose of creating mass fear, physical harm or death and/or economic loss. In today's global economy tourism entities import foods from around the world, which means that an agro-terrorism attack on one continent can destroy a tourism industry on another continent. To demonstrate how difficult and important the issue is, consider just one aspect of the food delivery chain, namely that of restaurants. Here are just a few of the safety and security problems that restaurants face.
In an age of terrorism, tourism risk managers must be well aware of the risk challenges found in the providing of food to millions of people on a daily basis. It is essential that risk managers then:
Drugs, Tourism and Terrorism
Closely related to alcohol abuse in tourism is the issue of tourism and illegal drugs. It has become increasing clear to law enforcement that the line between terrorism and crime regarding illegal drugs has become increasingly blurred. For example in Mark Steinitz’ writing about the drug connection to terrorism in South America, he notes: “Money from the illicit drug trade has increasingly helped to finance terrorist groups worldwide, but perhaps nowhere has this development been more significant than in Latin America’s Andes… In recent years, funding derived from the cocaine and heroin industry has largely underwritten the terrorism of that troubled region. “ (http://www.revistainterforum.com/english/pdf_en/pp_steinitz.pdf, April 4, 2010)
Recently a new phenomenon has attached itself to the tourism industry. That phenomenon is the drug cartels and their potential relationship to terrorism. The problem of drugs is both similar and different from other crime issues that have confronted travel and tourism in the past. The reason for drugs being such a dangerous tourism crime is that many drug dealers may also be associated with terrorism groups, thus, tourists who believe that they are merely using an illegal substance may also be aiding and abetting worldwide terrorism
Drug cartels pose an additional threat to tourism. In other aspects of tourism security it is assumed that both police officers and private security tourism experts have high degrees of integrity and are loyal to the rule of law and order. Based on this assumption, a normal procedure for assuring tourism security is the training of personnel. This assumption simply does not hold true in those areas impacted by drug cartels. For example, in Latin America the phrase “plata o plomo” (take the money or take a bullet) is often presented to underpaid police officers. In a paper entitled: “Plata o Plomo: Bribe and Punishment in a Theory of Political Influence” Ernest Dal Bó, Pedro Dal Bó and Rafael Di Tella note: Bowden (2001) writes about the ways of the former head of the Medellin Cartel, Pablo Escobar Gaviría: “Pablo was establishing a pattern of dealing with the authorities...It soon became known simply as plata o plomo. One either accepted Pablo’s plata (silver) or his plomo (lead)...Death was his strategy against extradition, that and money. His policy of plata o plomo became so notoriously effective that it would ultimately threaten to undermine Colombia’s democracy...Pablo’s primary target...was the country’s judicial system, to which he offered plata o plomo....Plata o plomo had every official in Bogotá living in fear or under suspicion...” (http://www.hbs.edu/research/facpubs/workingpapers/papers2/0203/03-060.pdf, p.1)
Influence of Narco-Trafficking on Tourism in an Age of Terrorism
Narco - trafficking can have a ruinous impact on a tourism center. A good example of this negative impact is Latin America. Some of the main impacts of Narco trafficking on tourism are:
Loss of Security
The narco traffickers did not attack tourism directly. Rather Nuevo Laredo became a center of narco trafficking resulting in a rise of violence. This violence caused Nuevo Laredo to begin its downward spiral. As violence increased, tourists and business people began to fear coming to Nuevo Laredo. Soon its main street, Guerrero, a bustling center of activity began to lose its charm and with the loss of security, its visitors. The loss of visitors resulted in large numbers of tourism-oriented business either having to cooperate with the narco traffickers or go out of business. While the city was losing its tourism reputation, the cartels soon infiltrated the local police departments. Thus, US police agencies, which had gone to Mexico to train Mexican police, now found themselves in the shocking position of having trained the very people against whom they were fighting. Perhaps the most classic example of this unintended consequence is the famous gang/cartel known as the “Zetas.” The level of police corruption in Nuevo Laredo reached such heights that the Mexican government was forced to send in Federal troops to take back control of the city. To add to the city’s woes both kidnappings for ransom and recreational kidnappings began. For example, the US media outlet, Fox News ran the following headline in 2005: “Kidnapping, Murder Sweep Nuevo Laredo” (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,164890,00.html, April 16, 2010). To complicate the situation still further the cartels often develop affiliated gangs (or self generated gangs entered into the drug trade) causing not only direct attacks on legitimate visitors and businesses, but also gang wars for territorial control. These gang wars were amply covered by the Mexican media and, thus, reinforced the image of northern Mexico as a place to avoid. Due to the fact that tourism reputations are both tenuous and fragile it is not difficult to imagine that the whole of Mexican tourism may well be impacted
Conclusions: Tourism Security and Risk Management in a Time of Terrorism.
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