ASTA Slams Vague Government Travel Alerts


The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has expressed its concern over vague, generalized worldwide travel warnings that offer no country-specific details and that can be confusing to travellers and risk discouraging travel across the board.

For example, the U.S. Department of State issued a Worldwide Travel Alert on Nov. 23, recommending, among other things, that US citizens remain vigilant when in public places and when using public transportation, to avoid crowds and to be aware of their surroundings. “While the issuance of the alert was no doubt well-intentioned, the lack of any detail particularizing the conditions in specific countries or regions of the world is concerning,” said ASTA president Zane Kerby. “Vague, overly broad warnings offer travellers little in the way of helpful guidance. In fact, they have the unintended consequence of discouraging travel everywhere, negatively affecting the travel industry and the economy as a whole.”

He noted that while country-specific travel alerts and warnings are taken seriously by ASTA and passed on to customers by travel agent members, it is ultimately up to the individual to decide when and where to travel. While consumers booking their own travel will typically have little else to rely upon, experienced and knowledgeable agents are uniquely positioned to guide their clients in making informed travel decisions.

Recognizing that travel agents can never offer or guarantee safety or security, their proven knowledge of destinations around the world enable them to customize travel itineraries tailored to their clients’ comfort level. Travel agents can also be counted on to advise and assist consumers in obtaining travel insurance if their clients wish to protect their investment and/or provide for flexibility in terms of modifying or cancelling travel arrangements.