Terrorism and Tourism: What’s a Nation to Do?

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On October 1, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas killing 58 and injuring 546 people.

By Mark Okrant
NH Travel Guru

As you read this column, two weeks will have passed since the horrific attack, in Las Vegas, on innocent attendees at a Jason Aldean concert. The count of dead and injured remains incomprehensible; however, a fortnight after the fact, there are lessons to be learned.

As much as it pains to say this, we are now in an era where terrorist acts on travelers and locals have become increasingly commonplace. Thinking back to when I was a young man, the kidnapping and murder of a labor minister in Quebec dominated the front page in 1970. Being unfamiliar with the term ‘terrorist,’ the actions of the Front de Libération du Québec upset and frightened me terribly.

However, when similar attacks were absent from the news for several months, I convinced myself that my family and I were safe from such activity. This, after all, was an aberration, and a foreign one at that.

Mark Okrant, the NH Travel Guru

However, forty-seven years later, such attacks are no longer infrequent, and they are happening in places right down the road: in Newtown, Boston, Aurora, and now Las Vegas.

In each of these incidents, the action was what tourism-terrorism expert, Dr. Peter Tarlow, President of Tourism and More, Inc. (www.tourismandmore.com), has labeled “acts of criminal terror”—terrible actions that hurt many people, but have a personal, rather than political, motivation.

Unfortunately, existing architectural design serves the actions of would be terrorists. It’s a simple fact that hotels, arenas, transportation terminals, and other public spaces were designed during times that predated the current proclivity toward mass violence.

Moving forward, the question about how to deal with this escalation in terror is being asked within legislative chambers in Washington, DC and all fifty states. To those in positions of responsibility, Tarlow endorses several band-aid solutions:
“high coordination” between law enforcement and security personnel at hotels, arenas, and transportation terminals;
training in “psychological and sociological analytics” on the part of security personnel;
“improved baggage inspection,” using trained dogs, while developing new technology for the explicit purpose of inspecting suspicious items and spaces;
“training frontline personnel” to question things that seem out-of-place—e.g., ‘do not disturb’ signs and excessive baggage—then notifying security to become involved before it is too late.

While government officials and tourism industry administrators must not allow themselves to react to these events by usurping individual freedoms, it is essential that they avoid the mistake of doing nothing. International and domestic political terrorists are out there, as are those rare individuals whose response to a life gone wrong is to go out in a blaze of gore.

The causes of terrorist acts are numerous and complex; solutions will be even more so. The road ahead necessitates that elected officials, tourism leaders, gun control advocates and opponents tackle this problem together in a mature fashion, wherein intractable positions and their accompanying platitudes are checked at the door, so everyone addresses this escalating problem in a systematic fashion. In this manner, we stand the best opportunity to protect the personal safety of travelers and host populations alike.


After forty years as an educator, researcher, and consultant, Mark Okrant joined IndepthNH.org to offer concise, informative insight into New Hampshire’s travel and tourism industry as a business, while showcasing the people and places you want to know. This guy’s really been around. And, he’s funny, too.

For more about Mark’s compelling tourism-based murder mystery series, visit www.markokrant.com.

For information on current things to do in New Hampshire, go to:
http://www.visitnh.gov/what-to-do/event-calendar.aspx

NH Travel Guru Mark Okrant leads a double life as a murder mystery novelist.

 

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