By Dr. Peter Tarlow

This article is an update of one published in honor of the Twenty-fifth anniversary of the Las Vegas International Tourism Security and Safety Conference.

The 27th conference will be “reborn” on April 26-30, 2020 and it is hoped that the “mother conference” will spawn new interest in the importance of tourism security and safety around the world. If your community is interested in hosting a tourism safety and security conference, please contact Dr. Peter Tarlow or Jordan Clark. The Conference will take place against a background of both political and health crises that could impact the world’s entire tourism industry

Some basic Tourism Security Conference history: In May of 1992 Lt. Curtis Williams, a visionary Las Vegas police officer had an idea that tourism to be successful needed to have not only protection but also regular meetings where ideas might be exchanged and new concepts would be developed. Lt. Williams and Dr. Peter Tarlow were able to obtain a small room at the Las Vegas Tourism Convention center and ran the first tourism security workshop.

Since then, the idea of tourism security has become an important part of tourism. The then workshop, and soon to be full conference, proved to be logistically too hard for Williams and Tarlow to do everything on their own, and in its second year, Don Ahl, of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and the Las Vegas Chief’s Association agreed to become co-sponsors. Upon Don Ahl’s retirement, he passed his baton to Ray Suppe of the LVCVA. Ray Suppe and Peter Tarlow than transformed the conference into an international conference with speakers coming from around the world. In 2019 Suppe passed the baton to Mr. Jordan Clark and Clark and Tarlow have now reframed the conference so that it will become a major international tourism security conference.

From 1992 onward Las Vegas has held a tourism security conference for every year (except one) for the last twenty-six years. This month’s Tourism Tidbits focuses on some of the major principles of tourism security. It is dedicated to tourism security personnel throughout the world, be they members of law enforcement, government agencies, or be they part of private security teams. We also dedicate it to all tourism professionals. Without tourism security tourism will cease to exist. Were it not for the dedicated and hard working men and women who seek to protect the traveling public, in today’s violent world there would not be (or a greatly reduced) a tourism industry, and the world would be a much darker and poorer place.

As a thank you to all who work to make the world safe and secure for the millions of people who travel daily, Tourism Tidbits provides its readers with some of the basic principals of tourism security.

-Tourism Safety and Security are essential parts of any tourism marketing efforts. Once upon a time tourism professionals did not see the relationship between tourism security and marketing efforts. This lack of vision is no longer the case. Today we know that the public seeks out locations that provide good service, high quality products and are “packaged” in a safe and secure environment.

-No one needs to come to your locale. This principle was as true twenty-seven years ago with regards to the leisure side of the market as it is today. Today, with multiple internet systems, meetings can easily be held online. The key is that if your community is not safe, then the loss of business will be a lot greater than the cost of security. It is essential to remember that the lower the perceived safety the lower the relaxation and willingness to spend. Good tourism security means that visitors are more likely to return to a destination and during their stay they are more willing to spend more money.

-Tourism Security is much more than simply guarding a property. Today we live in a world filled with multiple threats, from the potential of a bio-chemical attack to cyber-attacks, from crowd control to the potential of a dirty bomb, from classical crimes such as pick-pocketing to room invasions, and from food safety to disease control. Modern security analysis need to be aware of ever changing threats, how threats intertwine with one and other, to whom to turn, and what are the proper questions to ask.

-Tourist geography matters. Through careful study tourism security specialists have learned that as tourism entities cluster, there is a higher probability of increased revenues but also a higher probability of crime and terrorism. Thus, tourism centers that desire to be successful (and clustering such as in the world of casinos tends to increase profitability) must invest in all aspects of security if they are to protect these vital assets.

-The traveling public has a long memory. Tragically the further one is from an “event” the worse it seems and the longer it lasts in people’s memories. Locals, including tourism professionals tend to forget past crisis, but these crises not only live on in the internet but also have long after-lives that impact a location’s or business’ bottom line.

-Always ask yourself: what is the cost of a negative headline (s) to Tourism security is not merely about dealing with an incident after it happens. Good tourism security is all about prevention and proactive behavior. A good rule of thumb is: the best crisis management is often good risk management. It is a lot less expensive to prevent a crisis than it is to recover from a crisis.

-Tourism security is more than dealing with crime; it deals with the total well-being of the visitor. This principle means that good tourism security also requires good communication and foreign language skills, an understanding of cultural awareness, interpersonal psychology, and being able to differentiate local perceptions from visitors’ needs.

-Tourism security means understanding environmental needs and working toward local beautification. Although we should not judge a book by its cover, visitors judge a local by the way it looks. Good tourism security requires clean air and water, and streets that are free of garbage and graffiti. Beautification not only helps to bring down crime rates, but also increases a visitor’s proclivity to spend money. Locations that lack beautification end up with numerous other problems that range from potential diseases to the potential for gang violence.

-Tourism TOPPs police units not only add to the bottom line but adds to a community’s overall well-being. There was a time when the tourism industry shied away from special tourism police units. The fear was that tourists and visitors would see police officers, become scared and leave. The opposite has proven to be true. Visitors report that when they see well-trained tourism police units, they have a higher tendency to feel safer, to spend more money and to enjoy themselves

This year’s Las Vegas Conference marks twenty-seven years of tourism security. These have been years filled with learning, training, and most of all, caring for the tourism industry. Let’s hope that future years are even more productive. To learn more about the April 26-30th Las Vegas International Tourism Security Conference please contact either Jordan Clark at <[email protected]> or Peter Tarlow [email protected] or visit the webpage at <>