Europe travel advisory produces little trepidation in Triangle
Posted June 1, 2016
Morrisville, N.C. — The State Department on Tuesday warned Americans traveling to Europe about the risk of terror attacks over the summer.
"The large number of tourists visiting Europe in the summer months will present greater targets for terrorists planning attacks in public locations, especially at large events," the State Department said in a travel advisory.
The alert pointed to two events in particular – the Catholic Church's World Youth Day in late July in Poland and the European Soccer Championship, which France will host from June 10 to July 10 – as potential targets.
France has been under a state of emergency since terror attacks across Paris in November left 130 people dead.
That country's spy chief told lawmakers that intelligence points to ISIS planning more attacks and that "France is clearly a target."
While the head of security for the soccer championship told NBC News it was impossible make any event 100 percent safe from attacks, officials have refused to postpone or relocate the tournament.
The State Department noted that European authorities "continue to take steps" to ensure safety and disrupt terror plots, adding that the U.S. is working closely with its allies to "identify and counter" any threats.
The alert, which expires Aug. 31, includes advice such as avoid crowded places and stay in touch with family and friends.
Triangle-area travel agents said Wednesday that recent terror attacks and the threat of more over the summer have had little impact on their clients' decisions to travel.
"There's a little apprehension. People are slightly nervous, but they're not that worried about it," said Avery Harris of Viking Travel.
Harris said fewer than 10 of his clients have canceled trips to Europe trips in the past year for safety considerations.
Australia and New Zealand are popular alternate destinations, he said, adding that most clients who had planned to go to Europe will keep their scheduled trips.
"A lot of people say, 'If we don't go, then we're letting the terrorists win,'" he said.
Durham travel agent Anita Lynch said the State Department's alert isn't specific enough.
"A travel alert to western Europe? It's a little too broad to be useful," Lynch said.
Next week, she is traveling to Europe with a group of 120, and the alert isn't stopping them.
"You need to be aware, but only if you have something specific that you can respond to," she said. "To just be fearful in general, I don't see it amongst my clients."
Still, Majorie Watters, who took a trip to Brussels, Belgium, last year, said she has some reservations about traveling to Europe in 2016.
"I'm thinking, 'Thank goodness I went last year and not this year,'" Watters said.