|Photo by Freeimages.com/Craig Toocheck|
The U.S. State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert for U.S. citizens, citing current information that suggests ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.
These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests, the State Department said. The travel alert expires on February 24, 2016.
"Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq," the State Department said in a written release. "Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis. Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services. In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali. ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt."
The State Department is advising U.S. citizens to exercise vigilance in public places and while using public transportation, especially during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events. U.S. citizens should also:
- Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
- Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
- Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
- Register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
According to Heavy.com, there are no flight cancellations due to the travel alert. However, travelers should still allow additional time at the airport due to heightened security and a Thanksgiving travel period that is forecasted to be the busiest since 2007.
The travel alert, along with news that Turkey has shot down a Russian military plane near the Syrian border, have started to hit travel stocks, Reuters reports, particularly in Europe. 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."
According to Reuters, a report from travel research firm ForwardKeys shows that new flight bookings to Paris fell by more than a quarter in the week following the recent series of terrorist attacks there.
At the same time, a survey conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) showed that nearly three-quarters of U.S. business travel buyers say their company’s travel to Europe will remain largely unaffected by the recent attacks.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest updates to this developing story.