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How Travel Agents Are Responding to the Paris AttacksNovember 17, 2015 By: Adam Leposa
|Photo by Freeimages.com/Ernani Oliviera|
As tourist sites in Paris continue to reopen following Friday's series of terrorist attacks, which killed 129 people and injured about 350 others, travel agents are weighing in on how the situation could affect travel to the city.
Michelle Weller of Travel Leaders in Houston, Texas, tells Travel Agent that none of her clients have cancelled travel plans to Paris following the attacks.
"I have a flight scheduled for November 30 for a conference and I am going no matter what," Weller says. "I think I share the sentiments of most people I talk to in that we refuse to let these terrorists scare us into disrupting and living our normal lives…I think a few people will change or delay travel until things appear more stable, but the vast majority are not deterred."
Wally Jones, a Travel Leaders agent in Phoenix, Arizona, says that any effect will be short-term.
"Paris is a highly desired destination and I also feel the traveling public will want to show its support to their citizens by traveling there," Jones says.
Sandy Anderson of Travel Leaders in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, agrees.
"There may be a short term effect on travel to France, as we had two cancellations this morning for Paris travel in the next month," Anderson says. "Long term, no. I don’t believe there will be an effect, as we learned after 9-11."
Other clients, Olson says, are taking a "wait and see attitude."
"This started before the Paris threats, however," Olson says. "The Syrian refugee crisis started impacting us more than a month ago."
Agents we spoke with are working to assist clients in Paris and keep them aware of the latest security updates.
"We have State Department notifications that our Duty of Care software automatically issues to clients for any and all locations with heightened security measures," says Weller. "It has been a good time to go over the Duty Care Program we have in place and discuss the importance of business and personal traveler insurance."
Jones says, "At the moment, we don’t have any clients with France on their upcoming itineraries. If we did, we’d advise our clients to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) with the State Department."
In terms of air travel, Olson is advising clients to allow extra time for heightened security at airports. Anderson is using ClientBase queries to identify customers eligible for airline waivers and assisting if necessary.
BTC Survey on Travel Impact
The Business Travel Coalition has released a survey of 84 corporate, university and government travel, sourcing and risk managers from 17 countries on how they plan to respond to the attacks. Many travel professionals indicated that most potential policy changes are still under consideration, based on the ongoing investigation. Here are the key findings:
- 20 percent of survey participants are very or somewhat likely to cancel travel to France for some period of time.
- 20 percent are somewhat likely to cancel travel to to/within Europe for some period of time.
- 70 percent are very or somewhat likely to allow employees discretion with regard to travel to France
- 55 percent are very or somewhat likely to allow employees discretion with regard to travel to/within Europe.
- 16 percent are very or somewhat likely to cancel travel to France until the investigation determines if the attack is just one of many in the planning stages
- 5 percent are very or somewhat likely to cancel travel to/within Europe until the investigation determines if the attack is just one of many more in the planning stages.
- 30 percent are very or somewhat likely to cancel travel to France if the attack is just one of many more in the planning stages until strategic modifications to travel policy are considered.
- 35 percent are very or somewhat likely to cancel travel to/within Europe if the attack is just one of many more in the planning stages until strategic modifications to travel policy are considered.
- 55 percent indicate their company’s Duty-of-Care policy will drive any modification to travel policy.
Additionally, the vast majority of organizations are likely to provide their employees personal discretion regarding travel to France and to and within Europe – 70 percent and 55 percent respectively.
Paris Travel Update
Most tourist attractions in Paris have reopened, according to the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Tours at the Stade de France are suspended until November 20, and the Crypte archéologique on the square in front of Notre-Dame is closed for renovation work until December 20.
The Galeries Lafayette, Printemps Haussmann, Bon marché and Beaugrenelle department stores, among others, will open at their usual times. Major public parks, gardens and theme parks, including the Big wheel - Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysées Christmas village, Disneyland Paris, Zoo de Vincennes and Aquarium de Paris are open.
SNCF high-speed rail lines and international trains, as well as all Paris metro lines, are running normally, the Paris CVB said. Only the Oberkampf metro station (lines 5 and 9) is closed to the public as a security measure. Riverboat trips on the Seine are also open.
The information points of the Paris Tourist Office are open at the usual times, with the exception of with the exception of the Anvers office, which is closed for work and which will reopen on Tuesday.
A statement on the website of the city's two major airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, reminds travelers to expect further delays due to heightened security. Travelers should also expect delays at the Gare du Nord (Eurostar).
How are your clients reacting to the terrorist attacks in Paris? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below.