Concern or reassurance?

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Sandown beach

What would b e our reaction if armed security patrols patrolled our beaches?

In the present international climate, security forces are more in evidence. For those involved with tourism the big question is whether it worries tourists because of the extra visibility or gives them reassurance.

There will be armed French sea marshals working in the English channel but, at present, they will only work in French and international waters not British ones. Why? Because talks are still taking place between the two governments. Surely there is an obvious area for international cooperation. Why is the British government not in a position to almost instantly agree? We have air marshals so why not marshals boarding ferries and looking like normal passemgers?

The news of French marshals descending from helicopters onto Mont St Michel, a ferry bound from Portsmouth to Caen this week, might have made some worried that a terrorist attack had taken place. Passengers on the ferry were told that it was an exercise but even then, it was a chilling reminder of what might be to come.

Did that exercise give comfort to passengers that a rapid response force could appear quickly if it was needed? No, I suggest it worried more people than it calmed because it brought home to people what might happen. In many ways, tourists don’t want to believe it could happen to them, only to some else who hadn’t been as diligent as they had been.

From Travelzoo this week came the results of a survey that showed that a third of people polled welcomed the fact that armed police would be patrolling French beaches suggesting that two thirds – the vast majority – didn’t or were unconcerned. What would be the attitude if armed police walked up and down the sands of Blackpool, Tenby, Skegness, Portstewart Strand or Saltcoats?

Travelzoo also says that 90% of people said they wouldn’t find a security prescence off-putting although I think that figure would drop if they came face-to-face with a patrolling, armed beach guard. If tourists came across that would they decide to cut short their holiday, move elsewhere if they could or consider that this was the way of modern life?

The tourist authorities would love to know the answer to that question because then they can plan on how to talk to potential visitors about this high visibility security approach which seems more and more likely to become the norm.

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