Recent incidents in France, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom demonstrate that terrorist organizations like ISIS “have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe,” says the caution, released yesterday. “While local governments continue counterterrorism operations, the Department nevertheless remains concerned about the potential for future terrorist attacks. U.S. citizens should always be alert to the possibility that terrorist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks with little or no warning.”
In particular, the State Department suggests, extremists “focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets. In addition, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports, and other soft targets remain priority locations for possible attacks. U.S. citizens should exercise additional vigilance in these and similar locations, in particular during the upcoming summer travel season when large crowds may be common.”
The State Department advises that travelers in Europe should check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate in their destination city for any recent security messages, and U.S. citizens should also:
- Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
- Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
- Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
- Have an emergency plan of action ready.
- Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Travel agents have their own advice – beginning, of course, with using a trained travel professional to stand behind you in case of emergency and to buy travel insurance. “I am honest with my clients,” says Sarah Boville. “They need to be educated and travel smart. With Europe season upon us have already had a few conversations. Prior to going have them register with the State Department, be in touch with family at home regularly, be aware of their surroundings and be smart.”
Many also suggested offering travel insurance. Said Erica Drakee at Liberty Travel, "[Some] trip insurance will cover you if you chose not to go, or if you happen to be attacked while overseas, as some of our clients were in Paris when the bombings happened. They were injured but airlifted out and saved within three days because they used a travel agent and an insurance company who covered the costs of over $450,000 on two family members. So yes.....if saving you means pulling you out ASAP instead of waiting in chaos with everyone else, if it means you coming home with a travel agency behind you AND knowing you're 100% covered on medical costs of your loved ones."
Travel agents can find the full alert on the dedicated State Department page for agents through the link on the TMR website and sign up for the STEP program to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.