Violence Prompts Foreign Capitals to Warn About Traveling to U.S.
Business travel insiders are not yet worried, but they say factoring in and preparing for risk while overseas is a regular concern in the industry.
At least four countries have warned their citizens about traveling to the U.S. after a spate of deadly shootings and an outbreak of civil unrest across the country.
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, a Caribbean nation home to a large population with African heritage, was the first to urge its residents to take care when visiting the U.S. and to avoid potentially dangerous protests. In particular, officials said that young men should “exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate.”
Bahrain, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) followed suit as the U.S. has been rocked by apparent terrorism, public demonstrations against police action—some of which turned violent—and mass shootings this summer.
But industry experts don’t expect the warnings to deter visitors, especially business travelers.
“Based on past experiences, we don’t expect these warnings to impact business travel. However, corporations will likely ramp up their communications on risk to those affected travelers,” said Shane Downey, director of public policy at the Global Business Travel Association, in an emailed statement.
Still, there are dangers to be aware of, here and abroad. At its annual conference this week in Denver, GBTA is offering more than 20 educational sessions touching on how to handle risk factors while traveling. That includes “anything from a medical emergency to an ash cloud to a terrorist attack,” Downey said.
Terrorism fears have led to at least one incident involving an Emirati citizen. Earlier this month, the U.S ambassador to the UAE apologized for the detention of a man wearing a traditional robe and headscarf while traveling in Ohio. UAE officials subsequently warned travelers against wearing the garb in the U.S.
There is no early word on whether these incidents are affecting tourism. The U.S. Travel Association redirected questions to another organization but reported that international travel to America had slid in May.
For its part, the American Society of Travel Agents said in a statement that its members were “always available to help consumers make informed decisions no matter where or when they travel.”
GBTA has a risk committee that focuses on the challenges facing business globetrotters, said Downey. It produces educational webinars for the group’s members throughout the year, he said.
New Zealand is among the countries to warn about traveling to the U.S. (iStock/Thinkstock)