How dangerous is travel according to Dr. Peter Tarlow

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The recently concluded 26th International Tourism Security Conference in Las Vegas celebrated over a quarter Century of Tourism Safety and Security.

Dr. Peter Tarlow of  had a major part in securing safety and security for the global travel and tourism industry. Therefore his keynote address at the conference was a must-attend event.

Dr. Tarlow started his keynote address with some tourism basics everyone should remember:

  • No one needs to take a vacation
  • Leisure travel is expendable
  • Business travel can be cut back
  • Travel and tourism are about attitudes. The more positive you are, the better service you provide and the better the chance for innovative thinking
  • People have both long and short memories

Issues of Security Theater

  • The public often does not believe what it is told
  • TSA failures
  • Airlines
  • Make belief security that is more a hassle then it is a help

In the world of tourism we no longer want:

  • Good service but instead seek the personal experience
  • Visits are not for resetting the body but rather the soul
  • Visits to places where everyone goes vs. oft the beaten path, personal visits
  • Tourism dependency on digitization
  • A post (or non) Brexit world and the rise of nationalism
  • Shifting types of travel and travelers and therefore types of security
  • The public’s lack of confidence in aviation authorities and aviation scandals
  • Bogus offerings and problems, these range from bogus holiday website to bogus claims that the traveler is ill
  • Cyber security issues
  • Refusal to take tourism security prevention seriously
  • Active Shooter
  • Public’s lack of confidence in the media

Tomorrow’s Issues: The Next Quarter Century!

International Security Threats

  1. Distinguishing between crime and terrorism
  2. Issues of the media

Although terrorism gets the media’s attention, in reality, crime and safety and health issues are bigger challenges to tourism well being.

  • Issues of pick-pocketing
  • Issues of fraud
  • Issues of crimes of dispersion
  • Issues of health
  • Issues of crowd control
  • Issues of increased soft-targeting
  • No lone wolfs
  • Trends can change over night
  • Be weary of what you read in the media
  • Cruise Security and issues of Maritime Security
  • Tourism and population shifts

 Issue of an unstable international balance of power

  • The Korean Peninsula
  • The multiple “Middle East”

– The Sunny world, the Shiite world, New alliances, and shifting sands

  • The European theater

Cumulative effects: death by a thousand cuts, Refugee problems, Europeans dislikes for each other, Issues of low employment among the young, The Mega Issue of Cyber Terrorism and automation


  • Issues of Ransomware and hotels
  • Issues of physical keys? Need for key control
  • Ransomewarand the self-driving car and drone
  • Loss of Privacy
  • Issues of Government Spying
  • Identity theft
  • Assurances that credit card numbers are safe
  • Hotel keys
  • Issues of automation dependence
  • Issues of a changing world
  • Need to separate analysis from politics
  • Need to understand that cyber attacks may be for military, for business or for terrorism reasons.
  • The Issue of education, training, and pay and the need to better market security
  • Bottom line: Security is no longer about brawn and not many brains.
    How will we pay for the expertise that we need?
  • Issues of Health and Wellness;
  • Issues of a dirty bomb
  • Issues of Bioterrorism:

Sheltering in a room may be the only choice, depending on the distance, most doctors are not trained to identify it or know what to do about it.

Chemical agents tend to sink (are heavier than air). Other elements are lighter and security personnel will need to be able to identify which elements are used.


  • Tourism Security in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
  • Issues of Robots
  • Age of biometrics: “If predictions for the future of biometrics in airports hold true, a face would be the only thing a traveler would need to check-in for a flight, drop off bags, pass through security checkpoints and board a plane. The entire process would be based on facial recognition biometrics, and technologists are already putting the pieces in place to incorporate that vision.”
  • The Robot Charles
  • Distributed ledger (DLT or “Shared Ledger Technology). These are: synchronized data spread across multiple website and without a central administrator or data storage. These techniques have both great advantages for law enforcement but are only as strong as the weakest website to which the DLT is connected.
  • New improved screening lanes that determine which bags will need extra screening and which bags can automatically pass through the screening process.
  • Cryptography allows an appropriate level of security in authorization and sharing of information.
  • Closely related to cryptography and using cryptography as the way to protect data is “blockchain” technology. This can be understood to be “records” (called “blocks”) that are linked together to record transactions between two parties but cannot be altered.
  • Mobile interfaces and devices will allow travelers and tourists to have a portable = identity with them and they will be able to choose with whom they wish to share their information

Ten most dangerous cities for 2018 by murder rate per 100,000 people

City Country Homicides per 100,000
Tijuana Mexico 111.33
Caracas Venezuela 111.19
Acapulco Mexico 106.63
Natal Brazil 102.56
Los Cabos Mexico 100.77
La Paz Mexico 84.70
Fortaleza Brazil 83.48
Ciudad Victoria Mexico 83.32
Ciudad Guayana Venezuela 80.28
Belém Brazil 71.38


So far for 2019 top five most violent cities in the world are

1)            Tijuana  138 murders per 100k or 7 murders a day

2)            Acapulco: 111 murders per 100k

3)            Caracas: 100 murders per 100k

4)            Ciudad Victoria 86 murders per 100k

5)            Juárz: 85 murders per 100k

Most dangerous city in US ranked  #13 is St. Louis at 65.83 and Baltimore ranked #24 at 55.48

The ten most dangerous tourism cities in the world are

City Country
San Pedro Sula Honduras
Karachi Pakistan
Kabul Afghanistan
Baghdad Iraq
Acapulco Mexico
Guatemala City Guatemala
Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Cape Town South Africa
Ciudad Juárez Mexico
Caracas Venezuela


According to the US State Department the riskiest places countries to visit for US citizens are:

Honduras Very high crime rate; trust no one!  San Pedro Sula is in Honduras
Venezuela Violent crime, unstable political situation, kidnappings
El Salvador Political tensions, crime and dangerous ocean waters for surfing etc.
Haiti Corrupt police, often involved in crimes
Mexico All-inclusive resorts are generally safe, cities and road are less safe
Kenya Terrorism
Brazil Crime, Zika virus, and lack of sanitation


Sulu Archipelago and the island of Mindanao are specifically noted as dangerous due to terrorist and insurgent activities.
Turkey Terrorism at popular tourist areas and in cities
Egypt Threats of Kidnapping and terrorism at tourism sites
North Korea Little crime and terrorism but open to government arrest
Russia Hate crimes in Moscow and St. Petersburg against minority communities such as LGBT


The risk for travel countries 2019

Risk is calculated by the potential for violence + terrorism = health issues + corruption minus efficiency of medical services, police services and private security

Extreme Travel Risk Countries for 2019

  • Egypt
  • Syria
  • Mali
  • Libya

High Risk Countries

  • Turkey
  • Mexico

Medium Risk 

  • Tunisia
  • Jamaica
  • Germany
  • Bahamas

Lowest Risk

  • Switzerland
  • Slovenia
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Iceland
  • Trends in tourism security
  • In the past, we have looked toward what has happened, the past. This year we will look toward the future
  • 4 clear waves of tourism security and principle issues
  • Waves of Tourism and Tourism Security and Safety
Wave Type of tourism/travel Police/Security Problems
1st wave: pre-industrial/Agricultural Limited to the rich or individual Personal robbery, kidnapping,
2nd wave: Industrial Mass tourism Acts of terrorism, mass killings
3rd wave “ post industrial Individualized/mechanized Fraud,
4th wave: Digital wave and machine Travel via machines: Period of virtual tourism and machine oriented crises Biological crimes, de-humanized crimes, machine oriented crimes


Toward a fifth wave?

Issues of Busileisure

  • Just as in the world of politics the world of security and law enforcement has changed.
  • In the past we have based our decisions on an information society. We now may be moving to a “feeling” society.  That is that facts are less important than feelings and how we make decisions are based as much on how we feel as on how we know

Key parts of a “feeling society”

  • Emotions
  • Visitors seek and express themselves in emotional terms
  • Personal stories
  • Word-of-mouth takes precedent, low belief in statistics
  • Our values, this is who (not who we are)
  • Police and security must act in accordance with the values style of the times
  • Sense of the spiritual
  • Such things as robots, logic and facts tend to be downplayed. People want and need the personal touch. Frustration with phone trees, being told to go on-line etc; Technology must touch the soul as well as the body.

Issues around the world


In the US the issue is the border and if immigration is an existential threat. Connected to immigration is:

  • The issue of gangs such as Ms13
  • Budget issues especially for states such as California and Nevada
  • Heath issues and their impact on tourism

Mexico and Latin America

Mexico: immigration and caravans also dominate Mexico

  • Cartels and crime, corruption and frustration
  • Country’s sense of Latino solidarity versus its inability to protect its southern border
  • Crime out of control and the possibility of a loss in tourism revenue
  • Citizens are fed up and the result was a revolution at the ballot box that has so far led to a great deal of disappointment
  • Questions of relations with the US

Central America

Honduras,  Nicaragua, Costa Rica: Murder, kidnapping

Brazil: Popular revolution at the ballot box, the ascent of Jair Bolsonaro

From the perspective of tourism, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro has major corruption problems that have led to poorly paid police, police corruption and frustration.  So far the Rio tourism police are functioning

Some of the world’s major crime cities are in Brazil


  • In much of Europe, this has translated into a conflict between governments and popular movements
  • Les gilets jaunes = the yellow vests and weekly Paris demonstrations
  • Multiple nationalities in the same nation
  • The rift between eastern and western Europe
  • Russia
  • France and the Yellow Jackets


  • Growth of tourism in and from India and China
  • Korea and Vietnam
  • The war between Pakistan and India?
  • Sri Lanka terror attacks Dr. Peter Tarlow has been working for over two decades with hotels, tourism-oriented cities and countries, and both public and private security officers and police in the field of tourism security.

Tourism and More international staff include some of the leading experts in the field.

Dr. Peter Tarlow is a world-renowned expert in the field and a highly published author. Among his many books and scholarly publications are:

  • Event Risk Management and Safety
  • Tourism Security: Strategies for Effectively Managing of Risk and Safety
  • Sports Travel Security
  • The Sage Handbook of Tourism
  • The Encyclopedia of Security Management
  • Tourism in Turbulent Times
  • Tourism Crime and International Security Issues
  • Tourism, Security, and Safety

Tourism and More is considered by many as the world’s leader in tourism security, economic development through tourism and customer services.

Tourism and More provides consulting training, and certification to law enforcement, security, and travel and tourism professionals, hotels and destinations.

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