Last week due to political uncertainty in The Gambia, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all but essential travel to the country, prompting the repatriation of holidaymakers and some holidays to be cancelled. On Monday, the FCO updated the travel advice and holidays to The Gambia can now resume. The events highlight the importance of travel companies being able to respond quickly and effectively to changing conditions in a destination to ensure the safety and security of holidaymakers. Additionally, with an active and global 24/7 media, being prepared for a crisis is absolutely key for reputational purposes.
ABTA offers Members support during a crisis by sharing information and providing access to out of hours crisis assistance. We will also seek to get accurate information to the media and customers as quickly and effectively as possible to avoid any speculation or misinformation from spreading. During the period when the FCO advice restricted travel to The Gambia, ABTA issued communications to explain the actions for holidaymakers and what their rights are following a change in travel advice. Central to this was highlighting the protection that package holidays offer travellers, as well as illustrating the role that ABTA Members played in repatriating people in the destination. Our press office undertook over 20 broadcast interviews on the subject and dealt with many journalist requests.
The events in The Gambia show just how quickly changes to a destination can happen and I would urge all Members to ensure they have crisis management procedures in place, that are regularly reviewed and tested. Sign up to our operational bulletins, which will ensure that you are aware of the latest updates on destinations.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive