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Travel Warnings Need Overhaul: Travel Specialists

Media Release 16 January 2006

Travel Warnings Need Overhaul, Says Both Corporate And Retail Travel Specialists

Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel advisories are in need of some immediate improvements and should move further in line with Australia, according to both a leading corporate travel management specialist and one of New Zealand’s largest travel retailers.

Flight Centre general manager Jeremy van de Klundert said with more kiwis than ever set to travel internationally this year, it was time to revisit the government’s travel advisory system, with a greater focus needed on traveller awareness and assisting individuals to learn about and assess risk.

Mr van de Klundert said New Zealand travel advisories were currently buried within the Ministry website, whereas Australia had its own site, ‘smartraveller.gov.au,’ which was highly publicised across the Tasman through both advertising and links to the site on a variety of other travel based websites.

“The Australian government has earmarked $9.7 million over five years from 2003 on promoting the Smart Traveller programme, which means it is one of Howard government’s top ten promotional priorities. I think this puts it in perspective.”

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs had also recently revamped the content of its site, bringing in five different warning levels and summarising health issues, local crime and customs, as well as security risks, giving travellers a more complete picture of risks in their chosen destination.

Mr van de Klundert said as an increasing number of people booking much of their travel online, where there was no travel consultant to advise of risks, it was becoming more important than ever to offer comprehensive travel information.
“While we've made a renewed affort to direct our clients to the MFAT website, it would be a positive move to have a high profile, well publicised, and more comprehensive site specifically for New Zealand travellers. For a country of such avid and adventurous travellers as New Zealand, our travel advisories definitely have room for improvement.”

Corporate travel specialist FCm Travel Solutions general manager, Christian Casbolt, said business travellers were often faced with travelling to less desirable destinations than those travelling for pleasure, and detailed, specific information that broke down countries into various regions would allow employer and employee to more thoroughly assess risk and plan for all contingencies.

“As well as country reports, we want to know, say, if Cape Town is safer than Johannesburg, or how safe Bangkok is, rather than just certain parts of Thailand. This level of detail is something business travellers need to know,” Mr Casbolt said.

While getting the right information to travellers is a shared responsibility between agents, the Ministry and travellers themselves, both Mr Casbolt and Mr van de Klundert agree that in this age of uncertainty, the more detailed information travellers were able to access easily the better.

ENDS

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