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This guide addresses tourist crime, beginning by describing the problem and reviewing the factors that contribute to it. It then identifies a series of questions to help you analyze your local problem. Finally, it provides a number of measures your agency can take to address the problem and to evaluate responses. The guide addresses tourist crimes committed in the United States, although the information provided here will no doubt benefit those readers dealing with the problem abroad.
There are several problems related to crimes against tourists that may call for separate analyses and responses. These problems, which are beyond the scope of this guide, include
† See the POP Guide on Street Prostitution.
‡ See the POP Guide on Financial Crimes Against the Elderly.
††† See the POP Guide on Burglary of Single-Family Houses.
†††† See the POP Guide on Robbery at Automated Teller Machines.
Understanding the factors that contribute to your problem will help you frame your own local analysis questions, determine good effectiveness measures, recognize key intervention points, and select appropriate responses.
Tourism is an interactive relationship among tourists, local businesses, and host governments and communities.1 It is the United States' second largest service industry (after health care), and directly or indirectly supporting 204 million jobs,2 producing more than $100 billion in revenues,3 and drawing 57.2 million visitors to the nation each year.4 Growth in tourism, however, has also led to increased opportunities for, and incidences of, crime. Indeed, a long-established relationship exists between increases in crime and tourism; major economic crimes (e.g., robbery, burglary) in some highly popular tourism venues have a "similar season to tourism,"5 for several reasons. First, tourists are lucrative targets, since they typically carry large sums of money and other valuables. Second, tourists are vulnerable because they are more likely to be relaxed and off guard—and sometimes careless—while on vacation. Finally, tourists are often less likely to report crimes or to testify against suspects, wishing to avoid problems or a return trip.6 Tourist crimes generally involve one of several scenarios:
It is worth noting that tourists may be the perpetrators, as well as the victims, of crime. The "tourist culture" can lessen tourists' sense of responsibility. They may riot at sporting events, for example, or cause disturbances on aircraft. They may also solicit prostitutes, buy illegal drugs, or smuggle goods out of the country. Furthermore, terrorists may pretend to be tourists (to target legitimate ones).15
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