Tourism Security in an Interconnected World Tourism Security in an Interconnected World

Tourism Security in an Interconnected World Tourism Security in an Interconnected World

Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7579-5.ch008


Tourism security differs from locale to locale and is highly culturally dependent. This chapter provides recipes for cultural tourism policing and gives examples of how miscommunications develop when cultural barriers are crossed.
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Tourism Policing In An Interconnected World

A problem, a question, and a dilemma: An American police officer finds a young foreign tourist urinating behind a public building. As public urination is illegal in the United States the police officer begins to write a ticket for the foreign visitor. The visitor looks perplexed: He explains to the police officer that in his country urination behind a building and out of the public’s view is acceptable behavior, especially in places where there is a lack of public restrooms. He also explains to the officer that as per his cultural “norm” he went behind the building and did not urinate in a place that was readily accessible to the public. He further explains that as a foreign guest there is no reason that he should be expected to know local laws.

The police officer is now in a quandary. The officer does not want to be unfair or be a poor host and s/he realizes that the visitor is clearly not an American. On the other hand, our police officer has no way of knowing if the young tourist is telling the truth. Might the visitor have fabricated the story as a way of avoiding a fine? Our visitor does not speak English very well and our police officer knows nothing of the visitor’s language. The police officer and the visitor question what the other person is saying and even when using English each is confused by the other person’s accent.

The police officer is on the horns of a cultural dilemma: How does s/he enforce local laws (his/her job) and yet be sensitive to other cultures? How does the police officer decide to use discretion and balance being a representative of his or her city with the need to be fair and treat each person equally under the law?

Incidents such as this are an example of cultural differences. Often understanding another culture can help resolve a number of miscommunications. In the world of tourism policing, cultural literacy, along with cross – language communication plays a major role in how a tourism police division or a security group works.

Cultural literacy helps us to understand another person, but it never explains the full story. Each person is an individual and as such acts not only according by the dictates of his or her culture but also makes personal choices.

The word culture has multiple meanings. In this chapter we use the word in the following way: Culture is to a group as the personality or the person’s character are to his or her identity. Often we have no idea what is occurring. Culture is the shorthand that binds people together. Culture sets the norms of what is proper and not and often provides the guidelines that fill in the law’s missing pieces. From the perspective of tourism policing, cultural fluency is as important as linguistic fluency.

Cultural specialists often define “cultural fluency” as: “…the understanding and effective use of the hidden cultural currents of communication. It's how effective communicators use the language to connect with others, how they break and transcend the rules, and how they feel and flow in communication.” (Jordan, 2017) The problem for a police or security officer who lacks even a minimal understanding of foreign cultural fluency is that s/he might assumes that everyone knows what is proper or legal to do according to the rules of his or her specific society. The idea that there might be alternative ways of doing something might well not occur to that officer.

In a homogenous society this assumption works well. Every culture is the product of its own history, geography, ecology and climate and these physical and social forces cause people to develop norms that determine a person’s behavior and what is or is not appropriate.

Problems might occur, however, when we rapidly move a human being from one set of norms to another. In today’s highly traveled world people go from one location or country to another with great frequency, but despite the ease of travel, they often find it difficult to adapt to new cultures. Travel may produce clashes between cultures, and these cultural clashes produce the need for tourism security experts to be adept at handling multiple cultures.

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