"The travel and tourism industry is uniquely placed to help remove the causes ofterrorism as it is one of the conduits by which prosperity can flow from wealthier to poorer communities, helping to address the imbalance between the "haves" and the "have nots," said Jean-Claude Baumgarten at a World Travel & Tourism Council security forum hosted recently by Accor at the Sofitel St. James in London. "The more misunderstanding, intolerance and disparity of income can be reduced, the less rationale there will be for the terrorist."
Strong words, but they are backed by action. The WTTC announced at the forum that it has developed an action plan to both counter the threat of terrorism, and to put the traveling public’s mind at ease so people once again feel free to move about the world. Key components of the plan, which calls for all stakeholders in the industry to work together in a non-competitive fashion, include coordinating all policy, actions, and communications to integrate security into all aspects of operations. This includes developing countermeasures to the "blanket" threat levels assessed to certain global regions. The plan also calls for securing operating environments in both the public sector and in governments. This includes ensuring that security plans that product the public and industry professionals are developed and deployed.
The plan also calls for the travel and tourism industry to "exploit to the full its in-built capacity for the collection of…information from staff and others on the ground."
But some might say that the industry needs to start implementing change first in its own backyard. A national survey of hotel managers conducted at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, released in April, found that, other than small improvements in staffing and procedures at hotels in New York, New Jersey, and the central Southwest, most hotels made no changes in security staffing or procedures in the year following September 11.
However, said Professor Cathy Enz, executive director of the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell’s Hotel School, "the difficulty in making a conclusive determination from a study such as this one is that no baseline exists for hotel security standards. Thus, there’s a strong possibility that many hotels already had effective safety and security staffing and procedures in place before the September 11 attacks. On the other hand," she added, "one might have expected the responding general managers to report a move toward an even higher level of changes in staffing and procedures following the attacks."