Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio May
By Allen J. Sheinman
ADVICE ON TRAVEL ADVISORIES
Where to go for vital news about overseas
Political unrest. Labor disputes. Disease
epidemics. War. These days, it seems, arranging a meeting overseas
means having to keep one eye on the registration list and the other
Indeed, the post-9/11 world is a constellation of shifting flash
points, and keeping abreast of up-to-the-minute travel advisories
has become a must for planners.
“Of course, the Internet is the place to go for the latest
information,” says Jim Dittman, president of Edison, N.J.-based
Dittman Incentive Marketing. “And when it comes to travel
advisories, we go straight to the government agency that issues
• State Department (travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html). Dittman and other
industry professionals cite the U.S. State Department’s site as the
first place to go to track possible dangers overseas. Here are
found links to an alphabetical list of nations, each providing the
U.S. government’s take on current threats to travelers.
A mid-April review of site content found, in addition to
expected warnings about Iraq, cautions relating to spring break in
Cancun, news about the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome (SARS) in Ontario and assessments of armed conflict in
various African nations.
“The site also gives tips for dealing with crime in a particular
country,” says Penny Parks, vice president, travel operations, for
Atlanta-based USMotivation, a performance management firm. “You
rarely get that kind of information from a country’s tourist board
they have too much invested in wanting you to visit.”
• Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/travel/outbreaks.htm). Despite recent
criticism from The New York Times and others that the CDC has
become too ideologically beholden to the Bush administration on
issues affecting public health policy, the CDC’s Web site remains a
valuable source for advisories.
Last month, the site posted timely details about the SARS
epidemic in Asia and Canada, along with follow-up reports on the
outbreak of gastrointestinal illness on cruise ships earlier this
• Meeting Professionals International (www.mpiweb.org/members/home/planning.asp). The new Crisis
and Contingency planning resource was added to MPI’s Web site when
the war in Iraq began. Information includes updates from U.S.
agencies such as the Office of Homeland Security, as well as from
the British and Canadian governments. Like much of the MPI site,
this section is free.
• Air Security International (www.airsecurity.com/hotspots/HotSpots.asp). The Web site
of AIS, a Houston-based firm that provides travel intelligence and
security solutions for corporations, features a free “Hot Spots”
section giving updated risk assessments pertaining to terrorism,
political protests and labor problems worldwide.
• Travelocity (www.travelocity.com/info/cust_alert). The online booking
company offers news and travel bulletins issued by the Federal
Aviation Administration, as well as a free search function to check
the status of flights.
• Virtually There (www.virtuallythere.com/bulletin/index.html). Much of this
site is for subscribers only, but online booker Virtually There
does include free synopses of current alerts as well as links to
consulates and airports around the world.
• American Express (travel.americanexpress.com/travel/bt/news.asp). The
travel resources section of the Amex site features daily travel
bulletins, including warnings from U.S. agencies and the World
Health Organization, plus national and international airline
updates, all free.
• Intelliguide by Weissmann (www.weissmann.com).
Subscribers to this service from NORTHSTAR Travel Media, LLC, the
parent company of M&C, get constantly updated safety
and security assessments for virtually every country (and more than
5,000 cities) on earth.
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