ASTA Criticizes "Vague Government Travel Alerts"

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The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has released a statement expressing concern that "vague, generalized worldwide travel warnings that offer no country-specific details can be confusing to travelers and risk discouraging travel across the board."

The statement follows the Worldwide Travel Alert issued by the U.S. Department of State on November 23, recommending that U.S. citizens remain vigilant in public places and on public transportation. When the alert was first issued, travel stocks took a hit, especially in Europe, according to an analysis by Reuters at the time. The FTSEurofirst 300 index in Europe was down 1.3 percent after hitting a one-week low. Additionally, InterContinental Hotels Group, Carnival Corp., easyJet, British Airways owner IAG and TUI were down 1.4 percent to 3.3 percent. 

"Investors should stay cautious in the near-term as the threat of terror attacks are spreading to other parts of the world," Koen De Leus, senior economist at KBC in Brussels, told Reuters. "The U.S. travel alert further highlights investors' caution. These concerns could have a further negative impact on fresh travel bookings."

"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 and CEO Zane Kerby in ASTA's most recent statement. "Vague, overly broad warnings offer travelers 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."