People, Travel

Africa Furious Over US Travel Warning

Africa Furious Over US Travel WarningAfrica Furious Over US Travel Warning

Africa’s struggling tourism industry has reacted with outrage this week over a “worldwide” travel alert recently issued by the US State Department following the deadly terrorist attacks in Mali, Egypt and France, according to News 24.

David Frost, CEO of the Southern African Tourism Services Association in Randburg, South Africa, said the blanket warnings are “never helpful” to travelers nor to African tourist destinations. Jeff Chatterton, owner of global crisis communications consultancy Checkmate Public Affairs, slammed the alert as “completely useless.”

“It’s useless. Absolutely, completely useless,” Chatterton wrote in an op-ed for ETN Global Travel Industry News. “The state department is warning you about absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything, all at the same time. The alert is not location specific. It’s not event specific. ”

US President Barack Obama’s administration issued the rare global travel alert on Nov. 23, warning all American travelers about the increased terror threats from al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Islamic State group as well as copycats.

The last time the US State Department issued a similar worldwide alert was in December 2014.

The warning followed a string of fatal attacks around the world, including the Islamic State bombing of a Russian plane in Egypt’s Sinai desert which killed all 224 people on board

IS also claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that left at least 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Days later, gunmen stormed a hotel in Mali’s capital city of Bamako on Nov. 20, taking about 100 people hostage and killing more than two dozen.

A global survey released last month by the CMO Council’s GeoBranding Center and AIG Travel showed that more than half of travelers trust government alerts above all other sources when deciding on safe travel destinations.

The survey also found that half of the potential travelers to Africa are avoiding the massive continent due to fears of personal safety, violence and diseases like Ebola. One in four travelers changed or cancelled their vacation plans in the past year over safety concerns.

Africa’s tourism industry is struggling to address this sharp drop in foreign leisure travel. International arrivals in Africa have already dropped 6% this year, including 5% for sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Tourism Organization.