For many hotels, terror risks make tight security routine
HONG KONG — Across the globe, risks of extremist attacks and other violence have made tight security at hotels and resorts routine, even in countries where strict gun control laws may help prevent the kind of shooting attack that occurred Sunday night in Las Vegas.
Security varies widely from place to place: in many cities luxury hotels have entrances that open straight into shopping malls. Hotel lobbies often serve as a refuge from noisy, chaotic city streets, and are generally easily accessible.
But increasingly, hotel operators are deploying armed guards, vehicle barricades, x-ray machines and other security devices to reduce risks.
The most recent major incident in Asia, at the Resorts World Manila casino in the Philippines in June, shared similarities with the Las Vegas attack.
The attacker in that case was a man with a gambling addiction who got past hotel security with an ammunition vest and assault rifle, carrying out an arson attack that left 37 dead, mostly from smoke inhalation. The attacker later killed himself.
Afterward, Resorts World said it had hired a security contractor, Blackpanda, and established new emergency, safety and security protocols. A nearby casino resort, City of Dreams, also said it had tightened security.
Even before the attack, visitors to Resorts World, like many other hotels, office complexes and shopping malls in Manila, were required to pass through metal detectors and have their bags checked in x-ray scanners to enter.
Such precautions are not the rule globally. But some countries, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, which have seen a greater incidence of attacks on hotels or tourists, are more focused on security than others.
Israel's King David Hotel, which sometimes hosts foreign leaders, like President Donald Trump this year, has reportedly used infrared cameras carried by balloons above the building and robots in sewers to search for bombs. The windows at the higher floors can withstand gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades and the air conditioning systems are gas-proof.
Africa saw two attacks on hotels within months of each other in 2015 — in Tunisia first and then Mali, killing 38 and 18 people respectively. At the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital city of Bamako, there is now a scanner for bags, fences, and traffic is blocked from driving in front of the building.
Hotels in Tunisia, which depends on tourism but has seen arrivals plummet since a spate of attacks in 2015, have since beefed up police presence and brought in metal detectors.
In some cases, even the extra security was not enough.
In 2009, attackers in Indonesia smuggled explosives past security guards and metal detectors, setting off a blast at the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta that killed eight. Six years earlier, a car bomb at the Jakarta Marriott killed 12.
In India in 2008, extremists targeted two luxury hotels, a train station and restaurant in a 60-hour siege in Mumbai that left more than 160 dead.
Hotel chains operating in India including Accor, Hyatt and Marriott now use handheld trace detectors and X-ray scanners to check for explosives and contraband. The upscale Lemon Tree Hotel at New Delhi's airport brought in a facial recognition system to keep track of visitors.
“Both Indonesia and India have strengthened hotel security since these events and others in the region, too,” said Mario Hardy, CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association. “Vehicles are checked and many hotels have added X-ray scanners at the entrances of the hotels and CCTV monitoring.”
He added that, “as consumers we may sometime see those as nuisance; but I think events such as these remind us all the importance of security measures.”
— Kelvin Chan
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2017
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