Threat of Terrorism Poses Special Challenge to Hotels


The U.S. hotel industry is improving security measures, such as hiring armed guards, erecting concrete barriers and deploying metal detectors to protect guests at international properties. But, according to USA Today, the car bomb explosion Tuesday at the JW Marriott in Jakarta underscores the difficulty the hospitality industry faces in appearing inviting to travelers but forbidding to terrorists.

The Indonesian attack was the third in just over a year at upscale foreign franchises of U.S. hotel chains, including a suicide bombing outside the Marriott hotel in Karachi in June 2002 and a suicide bombing outside a Sheraton property in Karachi in May 2002.

Many international hotels and resorts have since implemented tough security measures. But U.S. hoteliers have not taken adequate safeguards at home, some security professionals say.

John Fannin, CEO of SafePlace, a security consulting firm, says, “The lodging industry, in our experience, has done very little post-9/11 to improve security. Part of that may be due to the fact they’ve had a significant reduction of their revenues.”

The National Fire Protection Association is about to publish new safety guidelines for public access facilities, including hotels, in the U.S. The voluntary guidelines call for operators of these properties to conduct vulnerability and threat assessments and to develop “countermeasures.”

In addition, a new federal law providing government financial support for anti-terrorism insurance is about to take effect. The measure is expected to give builders and insurers the assurance they have asked for before starting construction of high-profile properties.

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