The US Department of State issued a worldwide travel alert on Nov. 23 recommending, among other things, that US citizens remain vigilant when in public places and when using public transportation, to avoid crowds and to be aware of their surroundings.
The warning followed the deadly attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 and came before the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel period.
'While the issuance of the alert was no doubt well-intentioned, the lack of any detail particularizing the conditions in specific countries or regions of the world is concerning,' ASTA president and ceo Zane Kerby said.
'Vague, overly broad warnings offer travelers little in the way of helpful guidance. In fact, they have the unintended consequence of discouraging travel everywhere, negatively affecting the travel industry and the economy as a whole,' he said.
While country-specific travel alerts and warnings are taken seriously by ASTA and passed on to customers by travel agent members, the association noted it is ultimately up to the individual to decide when and where to travel. ASTA added that while consumers booking their own travel 'typically have little else to rely upon,' experienced and knowledgeable travel agents are 'positioned to guide their clients in making informed decisions.'