How concerned should you be about world travel after terror attacks?

French soldiers stand by as tourists take selfies in Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris, France, Sunday, Nov. 22. Francois Mori/AP Photo

The Canadian government isn’t following the U.S. lead to issue a worldwide travel alert in the wake of the recent terror attacks in France, Lebanon, Mali and Egypt.

In an email to Global News Tuesday, the Dept. of Foreign Affairs would not say whether it intends to make a similar move as the U.S. State Department, which warned terrorist groups like ISIS, al Qaeda and Boko Haram “continue to plan attacks in multiple regions.”

READ MORE: US State Department issues ‘worldwide travel alert’

Foreign Affairs would only say it offers “travel advice and recommendations about safety and security conditions abroad to enable travellers to make their own informed decisions.”

A spokesperson for the department said Canadian travellers can visit its website for the latest travel advice and advisories, which are based on “a wide array of source.”

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A day earlier, the State Department warned U.S. citizens to be vigilant in public places or while using transportation and to “exercise particular caution during the holiday season.”

The alert is to remain in place for three months, expiring on Feb. 24, 2016, and warns that attacks could target “official and private interests.”

Vancouver-based travel expert Claire Newell says these warnings can weigh on travellers minds when deciding where — or if — to go.

“I don’t want people to just take this laissez-fair and not take [notice of] warnings that governments are putting out,” she says. “But, I also don’t think that the right thing to do is the precaution of sitting in your house and… never travelling.”

She says vigilance is something we all need to be practicing when we travel — regardless of the terror threat level.

“I hope people realize the first thing people need to do when they’re going somewhere is to go to the government’s website… and check if there’s a warning,” she told Global News. If the threat level is high enough, she adds, travel companies aren’t likely going to recommend going in spite of warnings.

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READ MORE: Paris tourism slumps in wake of attacks

Canada has revised individual security warnings for specific countries in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris and the bombing of the Russian Metrojet passenger jet over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula — both of which ISIS claimed responsibility for — and the deadly siege at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako last Friday.

It’s believed that attack was carried out by an al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb offshoot known as Al-Mourabitoun.

As tragic as the attack in Bamako was, Newell says Mali is not a top travel destination for many people. Paris, on the other hand, is such a common vacation spot and somewhere many people have on their bucket list, she says.

“Paris hit home because of the fact that [the attacks were] in places that are very popular —restaurants, stadiums, malls — places that you go to when you’re on a vacay.”
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After the Paris attacks, Foreign Affairs advised of the French government raising its terror threat level to its highest level and declaring a nationwide state of emergency. But the department does not advise against travelling to Paris or anywhere in France. Foreign Affairs also advised Canadians to exercise a high degree of caution in neighbouring Belgium because of the “elevated threat of terrorism” in that country.

READ MORE: Terror alert makes Brussels surreal for residents, tourists

Newell explains experienced and avid travellers are likely going to “take heed” of travel warnings, but may ultimately carry on with their plans. But she suggests some measures people can take to travel responsibly.

She recommends always registering with Foreign Affairs when travelling overseas and leaving all the details of your travel plans with someone back home.

She also suggests having some sort of identification in your bags, coat and/or rental vehicle.

“In case of theft or in case something’s lost but also to track me down in case there’s an emergency.”

Lastly, Newell encourages keeping cellphone battery booster handy in case your battery dies during an emergency situation, so you can get in touch with loved ones or officials.


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