Such situations can lead to a two-fold problem for travelers like you. First, you must take all the necessary steps to ensure your safety. Second, you must follow all the stringent guidelines to avoid legal repercussions. Handling all this without a preliminary warning or a sturdy support system can be difficult.
Hence, the governments of various countries and other international administrative bodies issue official safety instructions, also known as travel advisories. These advisories contain information about worldwide dangers and civil unrest to help you avoid such situations or make necessary safety preparations. A travel advisory also provides information about government-approved emergency contacts across countries.
Let us understand what travel advisory is and its importance for travelers.
A travel advisory is a set of guidelines issued by government authorities informing citizens about the safety situation of a foreign destination and the visitors about their country’s travel regulations. It provides the latest updates on matters concerning terrorism, civil unrest, political instability, public health and safety, and natural calamities.
Moreover, a travel advisory also tells you how to find help if you encounter any emergency at an unfamiliar destination.
Here are some aspects covered by a travel advisory:
The latest travel advisories are available on a country’s official government websites. If you are a traveler, you can read the updated travel advisory and plan your work or leisure trips accordingly.
Alternatively, if you are a travel manager, you can read the travel advisory to improve the company’s duty of care plan. Moreover, you can create a risk assessment checklist according to the advisory’s guidelines and give it to your employees to assess their safety before travel.
Here is a customizable travel risk assessment checklist template you can use.
A travel advisory can be issued by various governing organizations concerned with the health and safety of travelers and citizens. Here is a broad classification of such organizations:
Government agencies on central and state levels are concerned about the health and safety of the citizens. Hence, they issue a travel advisory to ensure citizens don’t travel to unsafe destinations. Moreover, they also aim to inform travelers from other places about their jurisdiction’s entry and exit requirements.
Here are a few examples of government-issued travel advisories:
International administrative organizations like the United Nations and the World Health Organization issue regular travel advisories for worldwide emergencies. Such advisories are not specific to any particular region or group of people. They are more generalized and comprehensive.
Moreover, such international organizations also keep a repository of government websites for updates on the general conditions of countries.
Here is an example of a WHO-issued travel advisory:
A travel advisory is developed based on an objective assessment of global travel-related risks. Firstly, government agencies and other authorities analyze the risks and create comprehensive guidelines for travelers.
Then, the authorities divide the advisory into four levels based on the presence of the following threats to safety and security:
The destination faces a lot of violent or organized crime. The local law enforcement authorities in these destinations have a limited ability to regulate criminal activity.
Major terrorist attacks have occurred in the past, and the threat of terrorist activities persists.
The destination may face significant violence and disruptions to safety due to social, religious, or political instability.
A disease outbreak has disrupted the country’s medical infrastructure.
The destination is facing danger due to a natural calamity or its aftermath.
The country has a short-term event that poses a threat. The event can be an election, religious activity, or a sporting event.
The country is facing any other less common but equally dangerous potential risks not covered by the previous categories.
Lastly, the authorities regularly update the travel advisory according to the developments in health and safety situations. The changes can range from protests in a country’s particular region to a global pandemic like Covid-19. However, if there are no significant changes, the travel advisory may remain unchanged for a long time.
Government agencies classify travel advisories into the following four levels based on risk:
This travel advisory level depicts the lowest safety and security concerns. If you are planning to visit a country with a level 1 travel advisory, you are not required to take extra precautions. However, you must keep the following in mind:
The Level 2 travel advisory indicates a heightened risk to travelers’ safety. In such cases, authorities prescribe travelers to exercise additional caution. If you are traveling to a place with a level 2 advisory, keep the following in mind:
Destinations with a Level 3 advisory pose a severe threat to the safety of travelers. The risks in these destinations can be potentially life-threatening and make the visit unsafe due to the following:
Hence, the authorities advise travelers to postpone all non-essential travel.
However, if it is essential for you to travel to a country with level 3 travel advisory, you must take the following precautions:
Level 4 pertains to the highest degree of travel risk. Travelers visiting destinations with a level 4 advisory are most likely to face a life-threatening situation like imprisonment, kidnapping, serious injury, or even death. Moreover, the governments have minimal ability to assist during emergencies.
Therefore, the authorities advise travelers not to travel to such destinations or leave the place immediately if they are in the middle of their visit.
If you visit a country with a level 4 advisory under unavoidable circumstances, you must adhere to the following guidelines:
If you die while visiting a “Do Not Travel” destination, your travel insurance plan might not cover you. Hence, your family will be left responsible for dealing with multiple formalities to bring back your remains to organize your funeral.
Whether traveling for leisure or business, you must go through the travel advisory level to be better prepared. If you need a concise version of the detailed guidelines, you can check out our monthly Travel Realities series by clicking on the button below.
Although often used synonymously, travel advisory and travel alert are different kinds of warning. A travel alert is a short-term warning about a specific event. For instance, if a country is facing mass protests over the current government’s decision, the governments of other countries and international authorities will issue a travel alert warning travelers to stay out until the protests settle.
Alternatively, a travel advisory gives specific safety information about a long-term concern. For instance, governments will issue a travel advisory for a worldwide health emergency like the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fundamental difference between a travel advisory and a travel alert is duration. Travel advisories have a more extended expiration date than travel alerts.
A travel advisory is issued as a set of recommendations from the authorities to protect travelers. However, most travel advisories do not contain prescribed penalties for failure to comply. Hence, travel advisories are not legally binding.
However, if you visit a destination with risk level 3 or 4, there is a high chance of facing a life-threatening risk. Additionally, most leisure and business travel insurance plans do not cover regions that the governments consider unsafe. Therefore, complying with travel advisory guidelines is a wise decision from safety and financial standpoints.
With a travel advisory in place, travelers can get a comprehensive view of the safety situation of any destination. They can determine if the place they are going to visit has social, health, or other safety concerns.
Based on this information, they can either avoid visiting or make all the necessary preparations to ensure their safety. Moreover, female travelers can determine if they require any additional precautions.
Other than that, companies sending their employees on a work trip can make necessary updates to their corporate travel security policy.
Booking a safe mode of transportation and place of stay is essential to ensure safety while traveling. Travelers staying in a safe locality can return unharmed even if they visit a high-risk country.
A travel advisory lists safe and unsafe places. Hence, travelers visiting unfamiliar destinations can get an overview of where they can book their accommodation. They can also determine which modes of public transportation are the safest to take.
Although travel advisories are not legally binding, they contain information about the statutory travel requirements and the penalties for violating them. For instance, during the Covid-19 pandemic, all travel advisories listed wearing masks and social distancing as a legal necessity. Moreover, the advisory guidelines contained the fines travelers would have to pay if they failed to comply.
Therefore, reading a travel advisory before trips can help travelers avoid statutory violations.
The global socio-political, health, and safety conditions are highly dynamic. Hence, traveling to unfamiliar places, whether for work or personal reasons, can be daunting. Reading a travel advisory can help you pre-assess any risks you may encounter and make necessary preparations.
If you are a travel manager responsible for employees’ safety during business trips, you can manage travel risk better with travel management software like ITILITE. The ITILITE platform offers travelers tracking and 24/7 live customer support to help your employees have a seamless business trip.
Get a free demo of ITILITE to get a first-hand experience of these features and more.
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