Days after the U.S. Government issued a rare travel advisory for American travelers to beware of potential terrorist threats in Europe that drew ex-pat American shrugs this week from Paris to Rome, tourism officials are worried that it could deter some would-be visitors from moving ahead with their travel plans to cross the Atlantic.
The U.S. apologized this week for a recent attack that killed two Pakistani soldiers, paving the way for Pakistan to reopen a key border crossing that NATO uses to ship goods into Afghanistan. Pakistan closed the prominent NATO crossing in apparent reaction to the Sept. 30 incident.
Despite the American apology, CNN is reporting that terror attacks in Europe are “imminent”. It is interesting to note the ripple effect for Canadians as well, here at home.
I just returned from a three day business trip to Montreal, where attendees from France, China, Germany, the UK and the US were enjoying the exchange of ideas and business in an unusually warm and sunny October. Interestingly, no European attendees expressed concern about heightened tension or alerts travelling west.
It was our American neighbours who suffered the most scrutiny, flying to the somewhat safe haven of Canada. Additional time at customs, full pat downs and screenings and the unusual probe of all carry-on treatment (and this when I was returning to Toronto) seemed to be the general buzz for the Americans visiting these meetings. “It’s because of the potential terror threat in Europe” one grumpy security guard grunted at me.
Without a specific threat however, American visitors were not letting the alert disrupt their travels. A quick surf of the web pulled these interesting statements:
From abcnews.com: “We live in New York. So in New York we think about these things all the time,” said Richard Mintzer, a 55-year-old American visiting Italy. “I wouldn’t say we are particularly worried in Rome, no more than we would be at home, or anywhere in the Western world.” (Link to original story
Associated Press: At Paris’ Spring-Summer 2011 ready-to-wear fashion shows, W Magazine Fashion Market Director Karla Martinez said she gets “worried for five minutes, but then I forget about it and get back to the job that I’m here to do.”
The nonprofit group IES Abroad sent e-mails Sunday warning about 1,500 students in its European study abroad programs to avoid crowded tourist spots typically frequented by Americans. The message – also sent to the students’ parents –told students to leave public places if they see signs of trouble—common sense advice with or without a travel advisory.
Are we to perceive this as an over-zealous and jingoistic U.S. Government’s attempt to protect their own? Or perhaps they are simply doing a credible job of monitoring the potential threat to all travelers and keeping us alert and informed. I am happily surprised at the many Americans, and their fellow Non-American voyagers for that matter, who are not allowing a travel advisory to ruin their precious travel time.
Travel safely and securely, my friends.