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Speaking Points for NTA Tour Operators: Re: Elevated Security Level

March 21, 2003

Speaking Points for NTA Tour Operators: Re: Elevated Security Level
After strikes began on Iraqi soil Wednesday night, March 19, the United States remains at the orange, "high," indicating a high risk of terrorism against American targets. As a result, the U.S. Government is launching a national plan called Operation Liberty Shield to enhance security nationwide. "Orange" is the second-highest level in the five-tiered, color-coded threat alert system established by Homeland Security.

As you are planning tours in the coming weeks, consider sharing the following speaking points about Operation Liberty Shield, "Operation Atlas" and travel-related security with your clients.

NTA staff is communicating with members in key tourist destinations such as Washington, D.C., and New York to determine security measures taken in these cities that may affect your tours. According to reports from NTA member NYC & Company, as of March 18, no tourist attractions in New York were closed and the city had begun implementing "Operation Atlas."

NTA is in contact with the Washington, D.C. Convention & Tourism Corporation and has confirmed from the White House that Pennsylvania Ave. at certain areas around the White House is closed to pedestrians and White House tours of the executive residence have been restricted at this time. Click here for more resources on Washington, D.C. We will closely monitor the situations and keep you abreast of travel-related developments as information becomes available.

NTA is asking that all DMO members inform headquarters if any facility in their area is affected by the increased alert. As NTA receives this information, we will update the online Crisis Planning Information section. Click here to view the current information. NTA also recommends frequently visiting the following Web sites to receive updates regarding homeland security and Operation Iraqi Freedom:

NTA Online Crisis Planning Information Page:,5978,1_890_0_12532,00.html

Homeland Security:


Washington D.C. Convention & Tourism Corporation:

NYC & Company


Speaking Points:

Orange Alert and Operation Liberty Shield:

  • On Monday, March 17 immediately following President Bush’s address to the nation, the Homeland Security threat level was raised from yellow, meaning "elevated," to orange, meaning "high," indicating a high risk of terrorism against American targets.


  • Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is "encouraging members of the public to continue their daily work, family and leisure activities with a heightened awareness."


  • To help people feel comfortable in continuing these normal activities, including travel, the Homeland Security Department has stepped up its vigilance and developed a comprehensive national plan, Operation Liberty Shield, to increase security. Security measures in place that affect travel and tourism include:
    • Restricted air space across New York City and Washington, D.C., as well as other unnamed destinations.
    • U.S. governors urged to deploy National Guard and extra state police to protect bridges and other public areas.
    • Increased security at major U.S. ports and waterways, including more Coast Guard patrols, escorts of passenger ships and additional sea marshals.
    • Greater surveillance and monitoring of borders. Increased screenings of vehicles and cargo, and more interviews of people crossing borders.
    • More law enforcement personnel and patrols at airports. Airlines have been told to review the validity of all IDs for personnel with access to secure areas.
    • Railroad companies asked to increase security at major facilities and rail hubs.
  • The Transportation Security Administration also announced increased security measures Monday night that affect air travel, including ordering airports to conduct random inspections of vehicles, increase canine patrols, and increase overall law enforcement at U.S. airports. The agency will also be placing signage throughout airports asking travelers to be aware of the increased alert level and report any suspicious behavior.


"Operation Atlas" in New York City:

  • In response to President Bush’s speech on Monday, March 17, New York officials began implementing "Operation Atlas," a plan designed to heighten security around popular New York City attractions and transportation corridors.


  • According to NYC & Company, as of Tuesday, March 18, no tourist attractions in New York are closed to the public and the city has begun implementing some portions of "Operation Atlas."


  • The Federal Aviation Administration has been asked to restrict airspace over New York City and the Defense Department was requested to resume military jet patrols.


  • Portions of "Operation Atlas" that affect travel and tourism in the New York area include:
    • Increased police presence outside key businesses, especially around the financial district.
    • Expanded patrols by police, focusing on houses of worship, government buildings, hotels, bridges and tunnels.
    • Increased police presence at southbound streets into Manhattan.
    • A robust towing program, particularly in front of missions, embassies and U.N. buildings.
    • An increased presence by canine teams on subways and ferries, and the addition of 250 National Guard troops on subways.
    • Putting up to 25 percent of NYPD detectives into uniform; warning headquarters personnel that they must be able to respond to the street if necessary
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