Terrorism continued its assault on tourism yesterday with the US State Department issuing a rare worldwide travel alert over “increased terrorist threats”, and a travel information firm advising that international bookings to Paris dived by 27% immediately after the attacks on the city.
The general mood was not helped by alarming news yesterday that a Russian fighter aircraft had apparently been shot down over Syria by Turkish forces.
“Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Daesh), Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions,” a US State Department travel advisory said.
The alert, which is valid right through till 24 February 2016, advises Americans to avoid large crowds or crowded places and to “exercise particular caution during the holiday season.”
It cites recent attacks in Denmark, France, Mali, Nigeria and Turkey and warns of the threat of “lone wolf” attacks by unaffiliated people inspired by terrorist groups, and of terror attacks from members of ISIL/Daesh returning from Syria and Iraq.
“Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets and aviation services,” the alert added.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Afairs and Trade (DFAT) updated the “Terrorist Threat Worldwide” section of its Smartraveller.gov.au website a couple of days ago, as follows:
“Terrorists continue to call for attacks against Australian interests and those of other countries including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany. Terrorists have called for attacks on civilians, as well as the interests of military, police and security services.
“This represents a continuation of threats by extremist groups aimed at supporting and encouraging attacks in western countries and against western interests elsewhere. These calls are intended to motivate sympathisers to attack Western interests, often in unsophisticated but lethal ways.
“Attacks in Paris in November 2015 have highlighted the capacity of terrorists to conduct attacks against soft targets in Western countries with little or no warning.”
Meanwhile, travel information firm ForwardKeys says international bookings to Paris plunged by 27% for the week of 14-21 November 2015 compared to the same week in 2014. The Paris attacks took place just before the start of that period, on Friday 13 November 2015.
The sudden travel downturn has hit the leisure market hardest, with business and VFR travel proving more resilient.
ForwardKeys analyses data from 14 million flight reservations a day from around the world.
Written by Peter Needham