Counter-terrorism crucial for hotels, says minister
Minister urges hotel industry not to 'take for granted' Singapore's attractiveness to tourists
Hotels have become targets of terror attacks, so the management and staff have to play a crucial role to prevent incidents there, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann.
To do so, it is important for hotels to keep up with the latest security practices and technology, added Ms Sim on Friday, who is also Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth.
"Today, lift access card systems and intrusion detection systems that complement closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) are a norm, and they help prevent unauthorised access as well as monitor the movement of hotel guests and visitors," she said in her opening address at the Hotel Industry Safety and Security Watch Group's counter-terrorism seminar.
Ms Sim noted that tourism was one of the bright spots of Singapore's economy last year, with visitor arrivals growing 7.7 per cent to 16.4 million and tourism receipts rising 13.9 per cent to $24.8 billion.
"While this is a good result, our attractiveness as a destination for leisure and business travellers must not be taken for granted," she said.
"Each year, 200 million passengers pass through our borders. We cannot be sure none of them harbour ill-intentions towards our safety and security."
Ms Sim cited the terror attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta in July 2009. Nine people were killed and 50 injured after two suicide bombers from a Jemaah Islamiyah splinter group detonated improvised explosive devices.
Last August, news broke about a Batam terror cell's foiled plot to fire a rocket at Marina Bay.
Our attractiveness as a destination for leisure and business travellers must not be taken for granted.Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann
Executive director of the Singapore Hotel Association Margaret Heng said no country is immune from terror attacks in today's heightened security environment, and she urged hotel employees to stay alert and report suspicious situations immediately.
The seminar, now in its 9th edition, was held at the NTUC Centre in Marina Boulevard with 200 people - mostly hotel security managers and employees - taking part.
Mr Mohd Tahar Jaffar, a security and safety manager at Pan Pacific Singapore, said all staff at the hotel are required to attend training under the Workforce Skills Qualification programme and an evacuation exercise is conducted every year.
Mr Jasni Taha, a security manager at Sofitel So Singapore, said the hotel is looking to install more CCTVs, including at neighbouring buildings, and panic alarm buttons to bolster the security network.
Bulls-eye Security Services director of operations Jeran Singh said hotels face a huge challenge in preventing attacks.
"There is limited screening of people going in and out of the premises, and most are carrying luggage," he said.
But the difficulty in preventing an attack should not mean that hotels stop being vigilant, Mr Singh added.
Mr Mohamad Shahril Aman Abu Khalid of the Ministry of Home Affairs' Centre for Protective Security Studies said: "It is easier to spot a bomber than a bomb."