Behind the Curtain: Guest Suicides in Hotels and Tourist Attractions
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Hay, B. (2011) Behind the Curtain: Guest Suicides in Hotels and Tourist Attractions, , , , ,
There is an unwillingness by managers and owners in the tourism industry to acknowledge that suicides take place on their premises, and this along with the industry's reluctance to recognise that their guests' emotional baggage is not discarded at the entrance to tourism premises, has limited the exploration of suicides in hotels and attractions as a research topic. The aim of this paper is to investigate suicides by tourists at hotels and tourist attractions, with the objectives of: (1) exploring the impact of suicides on housekeeping staff, (2) discussing the management's responses to suicides, and (3) investigating whether design changes to the physical and service environment could prevent suicides. Following a literature review of suicides in both hotels and tourism attractions, a postal survey of housekeeping staff, along with in-depth interviews with their managers in two capital cities was undertaken. The paper concludes that, while some changes could be incorporated in the design of facilities, from a human resources perspective there is a clear need to better understand the impact of suicides on staff both directly and indirectly involved, and that more pre and post suicide staff training and support could be provided. However, because of the anonymity provided by tourism facilities they will always be attractive to those who are intent on committing suicide. The paper concludes by outlining some areas for possible further research, particularly in order to gain a better understanding of the motivation for such acts on tourism premises, and their psychological impact on staff.