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The attack in Sousse – Crisis management implications for the tourist industry

July 17, 2015 by Mark Wenham

Following on from the horrific attack in the resort of Sousse in Tunisia on 26 June that left 38 tourists dead many travel and holiday firms will be – or perhaps should be – considering their crisis management plans as well as their potential loss in revenue.  Especially following theUK Foreign Secretary’s advice on 9 July for all British tourists to leave Tunisia.

Indicators and warnings

It is always worth being alerted about the chances of a key risk actually occurring and taking appropriate actions to reduce that risk.  Therefore, one of the key things to consider for travel and holiday companies that operate in North Africa, or other areas where there is a terrorist threat is to undertake some form of threat assessment. There are some general guides and advice available through the Foreign Office website or more bespoke assessments can be undertaken by specialist organisations.

In any event, in the current climate of terrorist attacks, it is definitely worth considering having some form of assessment available about the countries you are operating in that will give you a better understanding of the situation, and so enable you to take key business decisions early, implement protective measures and hopefully reduce the risk.

Crisis management planning and exercising

Knowing what to do when there is a terrorist incident will be absolutely critical.  The only way to ensure that this will happen is to have a robust plan in place that people understand, have practiced as part of a crisis management exercise and can therefore be trusted to enact should the worst happen.

During a terrorist incident is not the time to be worrying about if your people and your business partners are doing the right thing, it must be guaranteed. There are a myriad of things to think about and a huge amount of co-ordination and great leadership will be needed to ensure that you can establish control and ultimately ensure that your customers are looked after and cared for in the best way possible in the most testing of conditions. At the end of the day your customers expect and deserve this.

Communications

Communication in a crisis is vital. People, especially those directly involved, will be desperate for information and systems need to be in place that provide clear and unequivocal updates and instructions that will help to restore calm and confidence in your ability to deal with an intensely difficult situation. Conflicting messages or unclear instructions will confuse and potentially make a bad situation much worse.

Secondly external communication. A terrorist incident by its nature gains media attention fast and again it is vital that you are able to provide the appropriate, timely and accurate information to your stakeholders, existing and future customers.

None of this just happens and spokespeople should be identified and given crisis media training for just such an event.

 

By having indicators and warnings in place, appropriate security measures, a well-practiced team and a thought through plan with trained spokespeople, will certainly reduce the risk of a terrorist incident happening and it will ensure the best possible response for your customers and so help to protect your reputation.

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