Ban terror warnings, says Branson

2013-04-29 15:07
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To many it's still the stuff sci-fi movies are made of - but thanks to Richard Branson and the innovative Ansari X-Prize its fact rather fiction.

Sir Richard Branson has slammed foreign office travel warnings on terrorism hould be banned.

Travelmole reports that the Virgin founder and president said the warnings are "exactly what the terrorists want" and risk devastating the tourism industries and economies of the countries affected.

"Terrorists put bombs in a Bali nightclub - then for the next 10 years Bali's economy has been ruined because travel advisories stop tourists from travelling there," he said in a comment piece for the Independent.

Terrorists carried out a kidnapping in Kenya and the US Department of State, by including the word "warning" in their travel advisory, have effectively negated all insurance, devastating industries from tourism to film, and even contributed to making it uneconomical for Virgin Atlantic to continue flying there.

Branson also said the Foreign Office's advice on Egypt warns of the high risk of attacks, including in "public places frequented by foreigners", even though during all the recent upheavals tourists have been "virtually unaffected".

According to the report, Branson said, if a terrorist attack happens in the US or the UK, governments encourage people to show their support by travelling there.

The spokesman for the UK Foreign Office had opposing views and said it takes travel advice very seriously and its advice is kept under constant review.

"The safety of British Nationals will always be our utmost priority and we have a responsibility to make sure British nationals have the necessary information and advice so that they can make their own choices about foreign travel," said a spokesman.
"We know there is a demand from the public for advice about threats to their safety and security and we would rightly be criticised if UK lives were lost and we had not reflected a known terrorist threat in our travel advice. We rarely advise against travel to a country due to the threat from terrorism. We do so only if we judge that the threat is sufficiently specific, large-scale or endemic to affect British nationals severely." said the spokesman.

However, the Association for British Travel Agents also defended the UK Foreign Office, saying it was doing a good job, although it admitted other countries might go too far with blanket bans.

"When governments issue travel advice, their primary consideration has to be the safety of their citizens, but potential damage to the relevant country's economy is also an important consideration. The UK Foreign Office has a good record in getting this balance right and the UK travel industry relies on and trusts their advisories.  Where appropriate the Foreign Commonwealth Office is careful to target its advice to specific areas rather than whole countries, unlike other foreign governments who are often much more inclined to issue blanket travel bans which can have a significant impact on local people's livelihoods." BTA spokesman concluded.

Read more on:    travel international

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