Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry and Culture, Community and Youth in Singapore, said in her opening address at the Hotel Industry Safety and Security Watch Group’s counter-terrorism seminar on Friday, May 19, that hotels must enhance security technology and staff training to thwart possible terror attacks.

“Each year, 200 million passengers pass through our borders. We cannot be sure none of them harbour ill-intentions towards our safety and security,” said Ms Sim and therefore Singapore hotels must keep up-to-date with the latest security technology and developments to enhance hotel safety.

She gave as an example the terror attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta in July 2009. The attacks, in which two suicide bombers from a Jemaah Islamiyah splinter group detonated improvised explosive devices, killed nine people and injured 50 others. The minister also mentioned that in June last year, a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle laden with explosives at the gate of the Nasa Hablod hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing at least 15 people and wounding 20.

“We count ourselves fortunate that such attacks have not taken place in Singapore. But we cannot assume that they will never happen here,” she added.

Hotels can adopt security practices such as training ambassadors to look out for suspicious behaviour, said Mr Jasni Taha, security manager of French luxury hotel Sofitel So. For example, staff should keep an eye on guests who pay in cash and refuse to provide their credit card details or personal identification.

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