Paris, France, July 2015 – Some 120 representatives of 50 local authorities from 16 countries as well as academics, representatives of the tourism private sector and six associations attended the “Security & Tourism: local policies and practices” conference organised by Efus in Paris, on 25 June.
The conference was the closing event of the Security & Tourism project led by Efus during 30 months, between 2013 and 2015, which gathered seven European cities – Alba (IT), Barcelona (ES), Brasov (RO), Munich (DE), Rome (IT), Saint-Denis (FR), the asbl BRAVVO-of Brussels (BE) – and the Portuguese association for victim support APAV. The objective of the project was to support cities in improving the quality and sustainability of their tourism policy by including all the related the security aspects.
“Europe is the leading tourism destination in the world with some 600 million international tourists in 2014,” said the President of Efus, Guilherme Pinto, in his opening address. Accounting for 5% of the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 12% of jobs, it is a key sector for local development and also “an opportunity for cultural exchange and for enhancing the value of the local heritage,” he added.
However, tourism creates a number of problems: in some destinations, massive influxes of tourists put social cohesion at risk and tourism can generate more insecurity, as there is a certain type of crime that is primarily targeted at tourists. Furthermore, tourists can themselves cause trouble.
“We must work together to improve cohesion in our cities in all its dimensions,” said Mr Pinto. “We must work to better welcome tourists, who are temporary users of our cities, but also hold them accountable of nuisance they might bring to our cities, fight against the specific types of crime that target them, help them when they are victim, and find ways to improve coexistence between residents and visitors.”
Panel I: security and tourism, two closely related issues
The partners of the Security & Tourism project presented a snapshot of the tourism sector in their city and region and of the projects and programmes aimed at curbing crime affecting tourists, raising awareness among tourists on security and on their rights and duties as temporary citizens of the cities they visit, and fostering peaceful coexistence between local residents and visitors.
Josep Lahosa, Head of the Prevention Department of the city of Barcelona, said that one of the main issues for his city is that local residents feel a loss of identity because of mass tourism. “Residents feel their city has become a mere ‘tourist attraction’ so we worked on this theme during the project, with the aim of making it clear that tourists as well as permanent residents have rights but also duties,” he said.
Adina Durbaca, First Deputy Mayor of the city of Brasov, said that for her city, the most important aspect is sustainable development. Brasov is candidate for being European Capital of Culture in 2021.
Maria Bras, Professor at the University of Algarve (Portugal), said that even though crime affecting tourists is mostly petty, it is important to strengthen prevention because the feeling of insecurity among tourists is, as much as real (in-) security, a key component of the attractiveness of a tourism destination.
Most of the local and regional authorities represented at the conference agreed that it is important to engage citizens and make sure that public spaces are fairly shared among tourists and local residents. The balance between schemes put in place for tourists and those for residents must be constantly kept so as to avoid favouring one group over the other.
Panel II: governance of the security and tourism strategy
Claudia Tapardel, MEP (Romania) called the European Parliament to play a more decisive role in tourism-related matters and emphasised the importance of local partnerships. Ms Tapardel pushed for the creation of a European inter-parliamentary group on tourism. She welcomed Efus’ initiative for collaborative work on security and tourism and said she would keep exchanging with Efus members.
Sandro Segedin, of the Croatian Ministry of the Interior, emphasised the importance of including security in the national strategy on tourism with the aim of growing a responsible and sustainable tourism sector. Croatia receives some 12 million visitors each year.
Janez Mekinc, Professor of Tourism at the University of Primorska (Slovenia), highlighted the need to carry out prevention campaigns and programmes in order to strengthen the security of tourists, and to have good evaluation criteria. The participation of citizens in the tourism strategy and public-private partnerships are also key, he said.
Panel III: tools and methods of the security and tourism strategy
During this session, the cities partner of the Security and Tourism project as well as the experts presented the local “security and tourism” audits that were conducted in each partner city. These audits were groundbreaking: no similar survey had ever been conducted before. They will prove very useful because cities need reliable data on the local security and tourism situation in order to design tourism strategies that include security and are efficient.
Rob Mawby, Professor of Criminology at the University of South Wales (UK), presented an analysis of the data available to political decision-makers and practitioners. He noted that in general, such data do not include information on tourists who commit offences, on the relation between tourists and offenders, and on the social context of the places where offences are committed. He also noted the lack of victimisation surveys. Cities need precise surveys and data in order to build efficient tourism and security strategies based on their strengths and weaknesses.
Raymond Saller, Project Coordinator at the Department of Work and Economic Development of the city of Munich, presented the global approach adopted by his city and emphasised the importance of evaluating each event. Munich organises a meeting with all involved stakeholders after each large event, which results in better management of festivals and other main events.
Support to victims
Ana Ferreira, representing the Portuguese association for victim support APAV, presented a number of concrete examples of how APAV helps victims, taking into account their specific situation and vulnerability (the fact that they do not speak the local language or may feel estranged in a foreign country). APAV offers psychological and practical support to tourists who are victim of crime (for example handling the paperwork) and has created a number of information documents.
Sexual tourism is an important theme that could not be addressed in the Security & Tourism project although it was part of the original work programme. This is why it had been included on the conference agenda.
Anko Ordonez, of the French branch of Ecpat, presented the alarming figures of child sexual exploitation worldwide. It is estimated that two million minors are forced into prostitution, including between 4,000 and 8,000 in France, he said. He added that since it remains difficult to prevent and fight against sexual tourism, public mobilisation is very important, for example for reporting suspicious events or venues. Furthermore, coordinated actions among cities and countries can help raise awareness on this type of crime and result in effective responses.
Following up after the project
Efus had invited Moussa Sy, Deputy Mayor of Dakar (Senegal), in charge of security and mobility, to speak about his city’s objectives and expectations regarding security and tourism. The situation in Dakar is the opposite of that of most European cities since tourism there is decreasing.
Indeed, Dakar strives to develop tourism in order to fight crime (notably pickpocketing) and improve cleanliness. For example it has set up a programme in which volunteers carry out security and surveillance activities. Mr Sy said “it is important to take into account the security issues linked to tourism in order to avoid unwelcome negative effects.”
Colombe Brossel, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of security, thanked Efus for organising the conference and expressed the wish of Paris to keep exchanging with Efus on security and tourism. She said this is a “co-production work” that needs to be strengthened, although there are already positive results since the implementation of the Prevention and Security Contract, which includes tourism-related matters.
Elizabeth Johnston, Efus Executive Director, said “our cities are open and global, which creates opportunities and wealth but also vulnerability.” She insisted on the importance of local and public-private partnerships in order to design and implement global strategies on tourism that include security. “One of the important lessons of this conference is that partnerships work and that there are supporting tools,“ she said. “There are many opportunities to build public-private partnerships.”
Another important point is the need for proactive policies on security and tourism that engage citizens. “Such proactive policies allow to go beyond the opposition between permanent and temporary residents. They lead to improved security services for the whole population,” she added.
Concluding the conference, Ms Johnston said that Efus wishes to set up a work group on security and tourism in order to continue the work of the local authorities member of the network and to strengthen collaboration with international organisations such as the World Tourism Organisation, Unesco, the U.S. Travel Association as well as the European and international private tourism sector.
Throughout the project, by leading local audits, field observations and receiving input from experts, these cities were able to strengthen their local security and tourism policies. One of the outcomes is a series of recommendations based on their experience which could benefit other cities facing such issues.
These recommendations as well as examples of various practices are presented in detail in the Security and Tourism: Concerted Local Policies publication (available from October 2015).
The recommendations are summarised in the following brochures: