Security for travelers


Peter Tarlow is a Texas rabbi and religion professor who, decades ago, became fascinated by security issues facing the tourism industry. His main impulse has been to bring together the best minds in the field to think about how to improve security for travelers. Every year, in larger and larger conferences, he has brought together hotel owners, airline owners, law enforcement officials, and other travel groups, prompting them to trade ideas on how security can be improved. This week, he's running the XVI International Tourism Security and Safety Conference in Las Vegas. Along the way, Tarlow has become one of the nation's acknowledged thought leaders on the topic, and president of the Tourism & More consulting company.

Tarlow is currently taking questions from readers like yourself. (Click here to submit a question.) He will respond with answers in an online chat tomorrow (Tuesday) at between noon and 1 p.m. Eastern time.

Tarlow and I recently talked about today's top security issues. He unnerved me with the following thought: Many famous hotels are in denial about the safety of their buildings...

Currently, he says, many hotels have no truly effective plans for emergencies. For example, many hotels have unrealistic ideas about how quickly their guests would be able to evacuate. They also lack plans for rescuing guests who are severely overweight and physically impaired. These folks may struggle to step down stairwells when elevators aren't working.

Tarlow hopes that several hotels will do more to improve their security. But he says that pressure from the public and from law enforcement will be needed.

Resort areas, such as the coastal beaches of Hawaii, also need to improve security for guests, he says. For instance, many travelers injure themselves or lose their lives when they attempt to surf and swim in the Pacific Ocean. One innovative program Tarlow is touting is that resort areas should partner with local universities to tap into the knowledge and manpower of students enrolled in kinesiology classes. These students would come up with creative ways to get the word out about ocean safety.

If you have any questions about tourism safety, broadly defined, please submit your question to Tarlow now.

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