ASATA: Does South Africa need its own ‘travel warnings’?

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The recent release of Stephen McGowan has prompted security experts to call upon the government to do more to warn South Africans about the dangers when travelling abroad.

Terrorism expert Jasmine Opperman told Business Day she believes the government should be issuing travel warnings and advisories to South Africans travelling to countries such as Mali and Somalia. Ryan Cummings‚ Director at Signal Risk‚ agreed with Opperman‚ saying the South African government should be providing information to citizens about “where it is safe to travel and where it isn’t”. However, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) says South Africa doesn’t have a policy to issue travel warnings to fellow African countries.

Although the government might not have a policy in place to issue travel warnings, travel consultants and TMCs associated with the Association of Southern African Travel Agents have a duty to divulge information about ‘dangerous’ destinations as well as unusual threats to their clients. Your peace of mind when travelling is a top priority for any ASATA-accredited travel consultant. That is why they will make sure they disclose any red flags or warnings about a destination, including terror threats and tropical diseases.

Business travel has grown significantly over the last decade with businesses sending employees to a wider range of territories including high risk or extreme risk regions. In these cases, your travel consultant will be able to update you on the latest security measures and highlight risks. However, the truth is that today even the most low-risk destinations can become high-risk in a matter of just a couple of hours.

When disaster strikes in what is considered a ‘low risk’ destination, it is a huge relief for the traveller to know that their ASATA travel consultant is available to assist with advice and solutions. The modern 21st century travel agent has the right expertise and will endeavour to resolve travel issues if they arise, including making alternative travel arrangements, or at least provide the traveller with useful information to manage travel issues and reduce the travellers’ levels of uncertainty and feelings of helplessness.

So, although travel warnings are invaluable for business travellers, what’s more important still, is to have a true travel professional at their side at all times.