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Sources of Health, Safety and Security Risk in Tourism

According to the WTO (WTO, 1997; Wilks, 2002), risks to the safety and security of tourists, host communities and tourism employees originate from the following four sources:

  • The human and institutional environment outside the tourism sector
  • The tourism sector and related commercial sectors ELSE_WILKS_CH001.qxd 9/30/2005 3:07 PM Page 7 ● Individual travellers (personal risks)
  • Physical or environmental risks (natural, climatic and epidemic). While the focus of this book is on visitor safety — which includes protection of life, health, and the physical, psychological and economic integrity of travellers — the WTO framework for sources of risk is very valuable for making sense of the many current issues canvassed above. Indeed, the framework has been used successfully in several international projects (for example, Wilks & Moore, 2004), so it is presented here again in detail.

Adoption of a robust framework is also a step towards addressing one of the continuing concerns in this area — that there are few mechanisms in place to gather and disseminate timely information to protect tourism interests (IH&RA, 1998; Wilks & Moore, 2004). The Human and Institutional Environment The risks from the human and institutional environment exist when visitors fall victim to:

  • common delinquency (e.g. theft, pick-pocketing, assault, burglary, fraud, deception);
  • indiscriminate and targeted violence (e.g. rape) and harassment;.
  • organized crime (e.g. extortion, slave trade, coercion);
  • terrorism and unlawful interference (e.g. attacks against state institutions and the vital interests of the state), hijacking and hostage taking;
  • wars, social conflicts and political and religious unrest; and
  • a lack of public and institutional protection services. Risks that occur in the broader community impact similarly on tourists and residents. Tourists are not always targeted, but they are often caught up in events by being in the wrong place at the wrong time (see Chapter 7).

Protection of tourists at this level is the responsibility of national governments and contributes to whether a destination is perceived to be safe. As demonstrated with travel advisories, this is an area where national governments are very active in trying to assist their travelling citizens, while at the same time, visitors are particularly reliant on the security services of the host nation.

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