Sunday, May 07, 2006

Tourism Security and NGOs

I just finished reading a book called Tourism, Security and Safety: From Theory to Practice. Targeted towards university students in tourism and marketing programs, the book is a collection of papers written by different authors on various aspects of safety and security. If you think about it, safety and security is an important part of the tourism industry – safety and security incidents can easily cause a drop in tourist rates and have a huge economic impact. The book does a good job covering topics such as terrorism, disease, criminal victim selection, and crisis management; all in the context of tourism. (This is not a field manual per se, but approaches these subjects more from a security management perspective.)

The first chapter, Towards a Theory of Tourism Security, struck me as incredibly important. It discusses developing a "theory" for tourism security – a theory being "an attempt to predict and explain a phenomenon." In this case, the author seeks to develop a theory that answers such questions as:
  • Why security incidents such as crime, terrorism, wars, riots and civil unrest exist at tourist destinations
  • What are the motives of the perpetrators/offenders?
  • What are the impacts of such incidents?
  • How do the tourism industry, the tourists, the destination, the media, and the community react to the crises caused by such incidents?
  • What effective recovery methods can be undertaken by the public and private sectors at the destination?
  • What methods of prevention or reduction can be used by the destination in order to avoid or minimize the impacts of future security crises?
Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it? The same issues we face doing NGO security.

The chapter successfully establishes a conceptual framework for practicing tourism security. It approaches the task academically yet delivers a set of easy to understand and apply core principles and fundamentals - many of which are directly applicable to NGO security.

This is something the NGO community could immensely benefit from (if you're able to get a copy of the book you'll immediately see what I'm talking about when you read the chapter). My hope is with an emerging academic interest in humanitarian safety and security issues, a professor or graduate student somewhere decides to work on a similar theory for NGO security.

(Note: The book is relatively expensive for its size and number of pages, with a typical inflated university textbook price. If you're on a budget, try tracking down a copy through your local library. It's a very worthwhile read that will make you think - outside the box.)

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