Opinion: Getting the world of health and security right

Opinion: Getting the world of health and security right

The safety of travellers has to be an industry priority but a proposed kitemarking idea is too simplistic, says Nikki White, head of destination sustainability at Abta

Every year Abta conducts research on consumers’ holiday habits and priorities.

When we ask people what they look for when booking a holiday, ‘safe and secure accommodation standards’ is the number one booking factor, a position it has held for the six years we have been running our survey.

Understanding the importance of this to holidaymakers is paramount; ensuring that people can travel with confidence is key to the travel industry and central to the work we do at Abta.

With terrorism and world upheaval dominating the news, destination safety and security has a high profile. However, this is just one element of a complex matter. The challenges presented by our global situation may change, but work in safety and security has always been about planning for the unexpected.

Kitemark idea too simplistic

Recently it has been suggested that an international ‘kitemark’ scheme should be introduced for the hotels and services holidaymakers use overseas.

This is simplistic and the issue of kitemarking in this area has been considered in the past and found to be unworkable.

The multifaceted nature of safety and security makes it essential for travel companies to develop ways to help holidaymakers stay safe and well-informed when travelling.

Being part of the travel industry involves working every day with individuals and companies in multiple destinations, each with their own systems and standards, adding to the complexity.

Abta provides safety guidance

Abta’s Health & Safety Technical Guide for members to use with suppliers covers the many diverse areas health and safety encompasses: fire, water, pools, balconies and security.

It provides realistic safety information and can be used as a basis for improving safety standards in the absence of any international tourism accommodation safety legislation.

We are also working with members to ensure that they make customers aware of Foreign Office advice before they book, enabling them to make informed decisions about where they travel.

This means customers will not only be aware of any security and safety information, but also of health and safety advice and information about local laws, customs and visa requirements.

In terms of capturing this important advice, the Foreign Office is the best source of up-to-date information, which is why travel companies refer their customers to it.

Customers should view this as part of their research into the destination they choose for their holiday.

More recently, Abta has been working with the UK government to implement counter-terrorism awareness initiatives among both our member businesses and the public.

We believe the industry can play an important role in educating staff and customers in how to detect and react to the threat of terrorism.

We are working with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office to provide our members with industry training, customer advice and counter terrorism support here and overseas.

The safety and welfare of travellers is of critical importance to the travel industry. It is essential that the work we do continues to evolve, to keep British holidaymakers safe and healthy abroad.

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