Tourist Safety and Security, Practical Measures for Destinations

"Health, safety and security" should be touristic sector's concern if it claims to adhere to the principles of responsible tourism.

From the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET), a fundamental frame of reference for responsible and sustainable tourism, we learn that the tourism industry is expected to take appropriate measures to ensure the health, safety and security of tourists (article 1 and article 6) by giving complete and honest information on a destination.

Yet, since the terrorist attacks in the USA on 11 September 2001, touristic sector focuses on measures against criminality and safety advice in all kind of brochures and websites addresses mainly issues related to travelers behavior to prevent becoming victim of common delinquency.

So I read in the touristic guide which was in my room in a hotel in Port St Johns (SA):

"Basic safety hints:
• Avoid walking alone in remote areas.
• Try not to carry a handbag. Rather carry a purse or bag close to your body.
• Avoid carrying big amounts of money.
• Do not advertise that you are a tourist.
• Be aware of your surroundings and those around you. If you feel threatened or uncomfortable, seek help.

There were no safety hints about the dangers of the sea, or about the risk of shark attacks at the notorious Second Beach in PSJ.

Whilst according to WTO, as one can read in the attached guide published by WTO in 1996, physical or environmental risks should also be addressed when planning for tourism safety and security. These risks manifest if
  • travellers are unaware of the natural characteristics of the destination and their effects, in particular of its flora and fauna,
  • travellers are exposed to emergencies arising from the physical environment due to the traveller's ignorance or passive approach to potential risks.
Why then, risks of the sea, which belong to physical or environmental risks, do not or hardly feature on websites, in brochures, in travel documents, at the airport, in hotel accommodations, in tourism offices, on the road to a coastal destination....