Last updated: 02:14 PM ET, Wed November 25 2015

How Will US Global Travel Alert Impact The Industry?

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | November 24, 2015

How Will US Global Travel Alert Impact The Industry?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Not even one full day after the U.S. State Department issued a global travel warning to American citizens, the news is already impacting the travel industry.

With Thanksgiving travel beginning today and most people more or less locked in to trips, concern now is how much the travel alert – not set to expire for three months – will affect airlines and cruise lines going forward.

According to Fox Business, travel-related companies saw declines on the heels of the State Dept. alert as well as the news of Turkey shooting down two Russian planes over Syria. Airlines including United Continental, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines each saw losses of more than three percent. Cruise operators including Royal Caribbean and Carnival posted two percent declines, all in early trading today.

The State Dept. alert is not a ban on travel overseas, but merely a warning to U.S. citizens “to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats. Current information suggests that 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.”

Airlines have not canceled or delayed flights, nor have major rail networks or cruise lines – nor are they expected to. The State Dept. has issued those global travel alerts before, including in December 2014, August 2013, September 2011, and May 2011. According to the Bureau of Transportation statistics, there was no appreciable drop in international travel in the 90 days after the alert. For instance, in January, February and March of this year – roughly the three months after the December 2014 global alert was issued – international passengers flying out of the U.S. totaled 44.5 million. During that same three-month period in 2014, with no alert, 42.6 million passengers flew internationally.

While there is no specific threat within the United States at this time, the State Dept. alert noted there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons who act on behalf of major terrorist organizations, striking large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services, with ISIL claiming responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt earlier this month.

“U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation.  Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places,” the State Dept. said. “Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events. U.S. citizens should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.  Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country.”


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