Brussels bombs: South Africans will continue travel to western Europe

Foto: Twitter (@Airlivenet)
Foto: Twitter (@Airlivenet)

Cape Town - A ripple ran through the travel industry on Tuesday, 22 March, following deadly attacks in Belgium that killed dozens of people at the Brussels airport and in the city's subway.

All SA carriers operating to Brussels Airport cancelled or diverted all flights to and from Brussels, where the airport was closed.

But, despite the fact that they may experience delays amid a growing fear of western-targeted terrorist attacks, it remains unlikely that South African will change their travel plans to Brussels and all other western European countries, experts say. 

SA tour operators TravelStart and Flight Centre sent out travel advisories saying the Brussels attacks impacts all of Western Europe, and that South African travellers should remain vigilant and extremely cautious. 

Flight Centre’s Sharmila Ragunanan advised South African travellers to follow the advice of local authorities, and keep their eyes peeled on local news for updates on possible future terror attacks. 

Russell Jarvis for TravelStart also says, "Travellers should remain alert and vigilant, stay away from crowded places. Public events and busy public areas across Belgium are likely to see additional security. Some public events may be cancelled and some tourist attractions closed." 

Ragunanan said while South Africans were incredibly resilient travellers and were unlikely to cancel their plans to travel to Belgium and Europe, anxious customers who wanted to change their plans are welcome to do so.

No reported travel changes had been made thus far, however. 

Flight Centre also warned South Africans travelling to Europe to be prepared for delays in checking-in and to clear security due to increased security checks implemented at European airports following the terror attack.

They also urged travellers to Brussels to contact their airline before proceeding to the airport as there may only be limited services available. Brussels Airport was closed after the attack and is only scheduled to open after Thursday, 24 March.


Train services in the city are also resuming while Eurostar services to Brussels were also expected to restart on Wednesday. However, travellers were warned to allow extra time for check-in.

South Africans travelling to Europe over Easter should contact South Africa’s representative office in the country they are visiting, or visit the British government’s Foreign Travel Advice service for more information on the security status of their destination.

In light of the increasing terror attacks South Africans are also advised to register on the Registration of South Africans Abroad website which will allow the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to assist South Africans in the event of an emergency. 

The Belgian Crisis Centre has also given the Belgian telephone number +32 2753 7300 for concerned family/friends or 1771 (+32 7815 1771 from outside Belgium) for general enquiries. 

On Tuesday, security was tightened across Europe.

The Brussels attacks come just four months after coordinated attacks in Paris killed 130 people. Air travel and hotel bookings in Paris dipped in the aftermath.

Apprehension about travel this time again, was global, and could be seen in the stricter security measures which were implemented at various international airports. 

"While the attacks took place in Brussels, it is likely to have an impact on European travel demand in general," said Raymond James analyst Savanthi Syth, in a note to clients. "The attacks come during peak Easter travel and ahead of peak summer travel."

Stocks of travel companies also fell notably between 1 and 5% in trading Tuesday, after the attacks. 

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc' stocks fell almost 1%, while Hyatt Hotels Corp fell 2.1%. Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC also fell 2.7% and Marriott International Inc fell 1.9%.

Also the major travel reviewing site TripAdvisor's stocks went down 2.5%. 

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