Travel Warnings Rarely Followed — Most End Up ‘Skimmed or Ignored’

With the recent Philippines hostage situation dominating headlines, travel warnings and outright bans are in the spotlight once again. Hong Kong is one of the latest to advise its citizens to avoid travelling within the country, while a series of other foreign offices have advised holidayers to go with caution in mind, avoiding obvious security threats and potential high-risk areas.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that most of these travel warnings will go ignored. Officials in Australia have noticed that, despite an increase in travel warnings against Fiji, the amount of people visiting the island remains at record high levels. There seem to be several theories for the limited interest in travel warnings, the most popular of which is that there are simply too many of them.

It’s a theory that’s gaining ground, particularly in Australia. Travel warnings are typically posted for even the most minor of events – an embassy closing, or small protests, for example. Travel experts have warned that reporting on trivial travel dangers is likely to devalue the warnings posted during times of serious danger or political upheaval, particularly in countries that are featured frequently.

The most obvious examples are the country’s do-all warnings against Thailand and Indonesia, which failed to spot tourists from visiting the country’s in record numbers. Australia has held a warning for travellers in Thailand for the last few months – a needlessly long length that may have resulted in few people paying real attention to the warning, and subsequently ignoring its importance.

The measures against Indonesia are similar – their extended visibility has made them something that many travellers think of as normal. Whether the system needs reform or not is debatable – with citizens continuing to holiday in ‘danger’ zones, it could stand to reason that people simply aren’t all that concerned by the possibility of political dangers or violence.

Presidential Holidays: How Travel Destinations Can Polish a Presidency

It’s been a tough week for President Obama’s public relations team. A series of family holidays have been turned into a political talking point, with opponents of the government claiming that overseas travel is not a major priority during a recession. It’s an interesting event for the travel industry, with the value of a Presidential visit often bringing millions of dollars to the regions involved.

Michelle Obama’s holiday in Spain cost the country less than many of its past leaders have spent during their vacation periods, although the perceived ‘luxury’ of travelling outside the country is likely to make the holiday appear more expensive. Most ‘first families’ have made a habit out of holidaying within the United States, due to its economic benefits and perceived level of frugality.

Former President W. Bush preferred to relax within the country’s borders, spending more time on his Texas ranch than any leader before him. Previous leaders have shared similar vacation desires, with Ronald Reagan typically spending his holiday time at his California retreat home. Overseas holidays are rare for the country’s leader, although they can help the travel industry’s growth.

What’s missing from the debate about Presidential holidays is the amount of media coverage that it generated, not just inside the United States, but outside. The First Lady’s travel party was followed for the entire trip, exposing millions of Americans to the Spanish travel industry and bringing the two nations closer together, albeit passively.

That is the true influence that world leaders can deploy in their vacation choices – an influence that some travel industry experts believe can inject millions of dollars into an area’s tourism economy. A singly trip with so much financial impact? It’s a wonder so few countries are investing in influential advertising campaigns, aiming to position themselves as a mecca for stately travel and tourism.