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PATA announces policy position on travel advisories

The Pacific Asia Travel Association announced its policy position on travel advisories…

The Pacific Asia Travel Association announced its policy position on travel advisories, an issue that has negatively impacted the well-being of travel and tourism in Asia Pacific, particularly in the last two years.

PATA President and CEO Mr Peter de Jong said that as the leader of travel and tourism in Asia Pacific, PATA was in a unique position to lead the way despite the inherently complex and politically sensitive nature of travel advisories.

Mr de Jong said PATA`s objective was to encourage greater transparency, accountability and even-handedness in the issuance of advisories. There have been too many instances where the economic and social effects of advisories on destinations were not sufficiently considered. The resulting advisories created a de facto travel boycott which caused job losses and emptied people’s rice bowls, especially those of unskilled and casual employees dependent on tourist dollars. PATA`s new platform on advisories has been designed to help everyone dependent on the travel industry.”

PATA’s policy platform will work on two fronts simultaneously: 1) key messages in the public domain, and 2) institutionalised action behind the scenes.

A) Key messages in the public domain

Through public relations, PATA proposes to spread the use of the “PATA Code for Fair Travel Advisory Issuance”. The Code will form basis of PATA’s public position on advisories. PATA will strive to position the code as a reference tool for issuing bodies. There are nine points to the Code:-

  1. The system for advisory information gathering and implementation should be made more transparent
  2. The economic and social effects of the advisory on target destinations must be taken into account and reconciled with other objectives such as support for overseas development and the alleviation of poverty, especially in developing economies
  3. There should be open consultation with stakeholders both in the issuing country and with representatives of the destination(s) under consideration
  4. In the issuing countries: much of this can be achieved by setting up a standing advisory council on advisories which includes government officers, representatives from the travel industry and other sectors (as in the UK and Australia)
  5. In the destination(s) affected: local embassies (or offices) of the issuing government (or body) should be willing to engage with stakeholders locally to review travel advisory content
  6. The advisory must be proportionate to the real risk
  7. It is essential that travel advisories be updated quickly, especially to reflect events which have already become public knowledge
  8. Out of date information should be removed as soon as possible
  9. Warnings should be lifted or lowered as soon as practical. Any change in status should be immediately publicised.
  10. All destinations should be treated equally
  11. As far as possible, destination governments should be informed in advance of changes to the travel advisory, and the underlying reasons for the changes

PATA proposes that the above Code be the foundation of speeches and public policy statements by PATA and travel industry stakeholders.

B) Behind-the-scenes action points

PATA is proposing four key initiatives here:-

  1. 1) Following successful examples in the UK and Australia, PATA will encourage the creation of standing advisory councils composed of government and travel industry members in key Asia Pacific source markets.
  2. PATA will act as a broker. Any PATA member destination that feels it is being unfairly assessed by an advisory is encouraged to inform PATA. If PATA believes the member destination has made a rigorous, balanced and well-argued case, PATA will present their case to the issuing body
  3. PATA will promote the PATA Code for Fair Travel Advisory Issuance among issuing bodies. The Code will be sent to governments and other bodies which issue travel advisories. PATA will start with governments in countries which a) have a recent history of writing travel advisories to the detriment of Asia Pacific destinations and b) are based in major volume generating source markets for Asia Pacific destinations. PATA government members and PATA chapters will play an important strategic role in this regard
  4. PATA proposes to seek the standardisation of travel advisories. Through the Department of Tourism, the Government of India, PATA proposes to approach the Geneva-based International Standards Organization (ISO) with the objective of achieving a universally recognised mechanism for assessing risk in a destination

Mr de Jong said: “The challenges that travel advisories pose to our industry will not be solved quickly. However, by taking credible arguments to responsive issuing governments and bodies, the travel industry and the people dependent on it can expect to see an increase in the quality of travel advisories issued about their destination. It is the least they deserve.”