The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is reminding holidaymakers to check Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice ahead of their holiday, as new research shows that 1 in 3 Brits do not check the most up to date information before they depart.
As an estimated 25 million British holidaymakers prepare to jet off on their summer, the report shows that, overall, one in three British holidaymakers said that they didn’t check any advice, including vaccinations, currency and international safety concerns. When asked why, 34% said they knew everything they needed to know and 30% said that they didn’t check as they had already been to the destination.
ABTA is reminding all holidaymakers to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Travel Advice online pages before a trip abroad, in case there have been any recent updates. At the same time, ABTA is supporting its members to make customers aware of the FCO advice with online training, which was launched earlier this year.
The training is particularly relevant for frontline staff and was developed in response to members’ requests for support on how to respond to challenging questions. Members can access this training directly at abta.com/abtaknowledgezone.
ABTA is also hosting an event for travel companies in Manchester this July, to learn more about communicating travel advice to customers.
Survey results in-depth
The research shows that the majority of Britons (67%) who have travelled abroad for a holiday did check advice for their destination. Advice concerning local currency (59%), healthcare including vaccinations (56%), entry requirements (54%) and safety and security (52%) were searched for most. More than two in five people (41%) said that they checked advice on local laws and customs.
In terms of where holidaymakers get their advice, one in six people said that they checked travel advice for their destination with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, equal to the number of people who checked a travel guidebook, while 25% said they checked a travel review website.
Travel advice for destinations can change quickly and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Travel Advice pages are under constant review to reflect any real-time updates, such as recent incidents, changes in entry requirements or local laws and customs – something which is not possible to find on a travel review website or in a travel guidebook.
One in four (23%) people said that they checked travel advice with the travel company they booked with. ABTA is reassuring holidaymakers that an ABTA travel agent or tour operator can signpost you to the latest travel advice, including from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“Things are frequently changing… check advice as you prepare for your holiday”
Nikki White, director of destinations and sustainability, ABTA said: “While it is encouraging to see that the majority of holidaymakers are looking for advice as they prepare for their trip abroad, many aren’t looking in all the right places for the most up to date information. Along with other useful information about your holiday and destination, your ABTA travel agent or tour operator will be able to advise and sign post you to the latest FCO advice.
“Even if you have travelled to that country many times before, we live in a world where things are frequently changing so it’s recommended to check advice as you prepare for your holiday. Guidebooks and travel websites can also provide valuable tips about sightseeing and experiences, but may not reflect the most up to date travel advice. The FCO Travel Advice is the best place to get complete and up to date information on your holiday destination.”
To find out more about ABTA’s Travel Advice training event in Manchester visit: abta.com/conferences-and-events
Bans and fines
Advice for different destinations can differ greatly from country to country. Here are six examples of travel advice for 2018 holidays that you may not already be aware of:
- Thailand: In January 2018, Thailand authorities introduced a smoking ban on beaches in several in major tourist destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Krabi. Those caught smoking in non-designated areas could face a 100,000 baht fine (about £2,350) or up to a year in prison.
- Spain: Mallorca and other local councils in Spain have banned the consumption of alcohol in the street and on-the-spot fines of up to €3000 may be issued. Penalties in Magaluf are four times as high as last year. There are strict controls on drinking in public places, including beaches.
- Croatia: Walking shirtless or in swimming costumes is frowned upon in town centres, some popular tourist spots such as Dubrovnik or Hvar have signage to show that the practice is prohibited by law and offenders will be subject to an on the spot fine.
- Netherlands: The Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on the use of so-called ‘soft drugs’. In reality drugs are prohibited and this tolerance exists only for designated premises in the major cities and buying or smoking soft drugs in public places is an offence.
- Turkey: Old coins and other ‘treasures’ found when diving should not be taken home as souvenirs without first checking the rules. For example, in Turkey the possession, sale and export of antiquities is against the law and carries a prison sentence of 5 to 12 years as well as a substantial fine.
Holidaymakers can visit gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for travel advice about their next holiday destination.