Global media is full of stories regarding imminent threats almost daily. Europe once considered a ‘safe’ destination for US travelers has suffered a series of high-profile terrorist attacks attributed to ISIS. Authorities in France and the UK predict that it’s only a matter of time before there are more attacks. Palestinian attacks in Israel are on the increase, and no country seems to be immune to security related issues.
How is all of this affecting the global travel industry? I have noticed an increase in tourists on the streets of Manhattan this summer. Numerous families from the US and abroad are wandering around enjoying the sights. Along with the typical groups of European students taking English classes for the summer. Is the US or NYC safer than Europe? If you listen to law enforcement authorities, it isn’t. New York City remains a prime target for Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups. The NYPD has implemented a large task force that is focused on combating terrorism and keeping the streets of the city safe from attacks.
What this illustrates is the perception of safety or security. I believe that in order for a security program to be completely effective, people need to feel safe and secure. Some complain that airport screening and other measures implemented after September 11th are just a ‘window dressing’, but how many would refuse to travel if these measures ceased to exist.
I won’t argue whether one location is safer for travelers than another. I believe that risk always exists, whether it is crime, terrorism or natural disaster. The question is what is our perception and tolerance of those risks.
If you’re traveling, situational awareness and a good emergency plan are the basics of a good program to ensure you return home safe and sound.