For Many Hotels, Terror Risks Make Tight Security Routine

Hotel operators are deploying armed guards, vehicle barricades, x-ray machines and other security devices to reduce risks

Across the globe, risks of terrorism 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, 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 across Asia, but luxury hotels in the region generally are on the alert for terrorist attacks and other violence.

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, terrorists set off a car bomb at the Jakarta Marriott, killing 12.

In India in 2008, terrorists 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."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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