Pirates a Growing Threat to Tourists, Corporate Travelers


"Piracy at sea is a worldwide phenomenon which has affected not only the coasts of Africa, but also Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Yemen, and Venezuela. Americans citizens considering travel by sea should exercise caution when near and within these coastal areas," it says on the U.S. Department of State's travel page.

For travelers who decide to venture into any of these areas, security experts say there are important precautions that can and should be taken.

Businesses often use risk assessment companies to help them assess particular countries or regions for danger, and individuals can also do this. This service can cost from $500 to $1,500.

Spivey, who has run hostage survival training programs for the Department of Defense, also offers training in travel safety and security and kidnap survival.

"Most people, when they travel, don't really research the location they're going to from a safety or security perspective," Spivey said. He believes this research should always be step one for any traveler.

Spivey and other experts also suggest checking in with your embassy in whatever country you are in and with the navy, if you are sailing. Check in often and let them know what your plans are.

While Spivey emphasizes avoiding putting yourself in harm's way by yachting in questionable water, he said that there are three c's to follow if you find yourself in a hostage situation: calm, connect and capitalize.

"You want to be a calming influence on those who are holding you," Spivey said. He suggests remaining as calm as possible and not talking about possibly touchy subjects like money or politics.

If possible, try to connect with your captor through common ground, perhaps about family.

"You want to make them see you as a person and not an object," Spivey said. "It's easier to kill an object than a person."

Finally, Spivey recommends capitalizing by encouraging negotiations to take place since all most pirates want is money: "If your company policy is to not pay ransom, you don't want to say that," Spivey said.

Ultimately, Spivey said to trust your "DLR" intuition: Doesn't Look Right.

"Trust your instincts," Spivey said. "Understand that the bad guys are not out there because of their strong work ethic. They're looking for the easiest target they can find. You want to be a hard target."

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