Holidays are supposed to be about fun and relaxation – but after increased terrorist threats near holiday destinations, it sadly seems that fun is being replaced by fear.
The potential threat starts just across the Channel in France, which is visited by 17 million Britons every year.
Although tourists in France are usually more worried about pickpocketing than being caught up in a terrorist attack, the FCO says there's now a high threat of terrorism in the country. Due to ongoing threats by Islamist terrorist groups, the French government has warned the public to be especially vigilant, and has reinforced its security measures.
Other holiday destinations where there are safety concerns include Turkey, where the FCO has advised against all travel to within 10km of the border with Syria.
It has also warned against all but essential travel to some areas of Egypt, although not the tourist areas along the Nile or the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada.
The FCO says there is also a general threat from terrorism in Morocco, but stresses that most tourist visits are trouble-free.
Whichever holiday hotspot you fancy visiting this summer, the best way to keep safe is to do plenty of research before choosing your destination, says Holiday Travel Watch, which offers practical advice to holidaymakers.
Rather than just relying on one brochure, book or website, use the internet to look at local news reports, taking particular note of any security risks. Also, be aware of how to report crime in your resort.
Visit the FCO website for current travel and safety advice.
Use Google Maps ‘Street View’ to check whether your intended hotel has good surroundings and security, and what the streets around the hotel are like. Look for potential escape routes, and whether there are any signs of neglect, graffiti or protest in the area.
If you do decide to travel, before you go ensure you take telephone numbers for:
- The European emergency services (112)
- If you’re outside the EU, find the number for the local police station
- The UK Embassy or consulate of the country you intend to visit
Make sure your family at home have the same contact numbers and think about having several methods of contact with family apart from text or email, such as Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter.
When on holiday, take note of your surroundings, including escape routes, and be aware of security routines and the location of the security office.
And if the worst happens…
- Leave personal possessions behind and head for the safest exit.
- Where it's safe to do so, use your camera phone to record vital evidence.
- Respond to any instructions or alarms.
- Remain at a safe location.
- Keep lines of communication open.
- Tell the UK Foreign Office and/or Embassy what's happened and where you are.
If you see something suspicious, report it to the police and the UK Foreign Office/Embassy, as well as your tour operator. Never challenge an individual on your own.
Frank Brehany, consumer director of Holiday Travel Watch, says: “By following these rules, you won’t guarantee that your safety will be totally preserved, but you will be acting to protect you and your family, and making informed choices.”