“Security is a fundamental part of our tourism offer”, José Martínez Espasa, Chief of the Local Police of Dénia, Spain

Located in the province of Alicante, on the Spanish Costa Blanca, Dénia is a tourism hotspot. The Chief of the Local Police explains how the work led by Efus on security and tourism, in particular the publication Security and Tourism: Concerted Local Policies (2015), inspired the municipal strategy.

The municipality of Dénia has drafted a security and tourism strategy. Why? What are the challenges faced by Dénia in this respect?

3385f1José Martínez Espasa: Most of the businesses based in Dénia operate in the service and tourism sector. According to the Valencia Statistics Institute, out of a total of 4,130 companies based here, 1,483 operate in this sector (commerce, transport and hospitality) and 1,758 sell other services. Dénia is a sought-after destination for surf, windsurf, kite surf, yachting, diving and trekking (natural park of Montgó).

Furthermore, the Unesco awarded Dénia the title of Creative City for Gastronomy, in 2015. All these elements concur to making tourism a key sector for Dénia, either residential or hotel-based. The Town Council has an adapted security strategy that includes specific actions to improve the feeling of security.

What are the main aspects of this strategy?

We are still developing our approach regarding security and tourism, which is focused on training local police and tourism professionals, in particular in foreign languages and relations with the public.

In the summer of 2016, we launched a campaign to ensure the safety of children in case they get lost at the beach or in town. It consisted in distributing free wristbands among children, each bearing an identification number that was registered by the local police along with the parents contact details. If a child was to get lost in Dénia when at the beach, in the historic centre or on the walkway, a local police officer could very easily contact the parents in a matter of minutes. The aim of the campaign was to strengthen the visitors’ feeling of security. The brightly coloured wristbands were available for free in all three Tourism Offices, at the central local police station and in two neighbourhood police stations.

Why did you associate security with tourism?

The customer surveys conducted by the Town Council show that security is a fundamental part of our tourism offer. As a tourism destination, we must guarantee a good level of security and have skilled professionals who can effectively help Spanish and foreign visitors when the need arises. For example, it is important that they speak foreign languages.

How did you develop your strategy?

This work was conducted by the municipality’s Citizen Security department in close cooperation with the local police. It is founded on information given by tourists who were interviewed on the beach by local police officers. The Tourism Offices played a key role in explaining the scheme to visitors. Citizen participation also contributed to the success of the campaign. In the evaluation survey, which was done in September, many residents and visitors expressed their satisfaction and gratefulness. The campaign worked very well; it improved the quality of the service provided to residents by the municipal police and their feeling of security.

How did you use the publication Security and Tourism: Concerted Local Policies?

The European Forum for Urban Security breaks the isolation of town councils, not only in Spain but also in Europe. The publication Security and Tourism: Concerted Local Policies focused on the importance of creating a safe climate for visitors. The town council must be the first institution where tourists ask for help, and also the central point for accessing a whole range of services, not only those of the municipality but also of the Region and the State.

Efus’ publication was the basis for a well informed, solid and sound tourism and security strategy. As a matter of fact, we will initiate new actions in 2017 and 2018 that are inspired by Efus’ work.

Were you also inspired by other local practices?

Indeed we were, notably from Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca in Spain, and also by the information leaflets for tourists that were produced by Brussels (Bravvo) in Belgium.

Further information on the child wristband campaign in Dénia (in Spanish):
Twitter: @policiadenia