Travel alert issued for US citizens traveling to Europe

MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - The United States Department of State has issued a travel alert for those traveling to Europe.

The U.S. State Department did not cite a specific threat in the announcement Monday, but they did point to recent terror attacks, all carried out by Al-Qaeda and ISIS, in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Russia and France.

They are requesting that U.S. citizens traveling abroad be aware of the threat of terrorist attacks, to be extra vigilant at malls, government facilities, hotels, restaurants, places of worship and airports, all listed as possible targets.

Officials also warn that travelers should check the State Department website often for security messages.

The recent incident in France happened two weeks ago when, Paris police say, a radical Islamist extremist shot three police officers, killing one of them, along the famed Champs-Elysees shopping district.

As for the attack in London, that happened back in March when a man drove into a crowd of people on Westminster Bridge, killing four people. The attacker then stabbed a police officer to death before he was taken out.

“Anytime there are news, it does affect the public,” said Arnaldo Busutil with Marvel Travel.

Busutil said the fear factor among travelers usually sets in first. “Of course, we do get travelers every once in a while who come saying they don’t want to go to Europe, that we see probably on a weekly basis, because of what’s going on over there,” he said.

Travel agents said these alerts can also drive prices down in the early stages.

The alert goes on to say, “Terrorists persist in employing a variety of tactics, including firearms, explosives, using vehicles as ramming devices, and sharp-edged weapons that are difficult to detect prior to an attack.”

Travelers at Miami International Airport gave their thoughts on the alert.

Mark Pace is a traveler from Europe and believes the alert is relatively unnecessary. “I think it is a little bit excessive, I don’t think it’s necessary in that sense,” he said. “Europe stands for a lot of democratic values, just like the United States does. That being said, if we give in to a society of fear and are fearful of what’s happening in terms of terrorism, I think it’s the wrong way to go. We should still be open. I think we should be welcoming as many people as possible.”

Another man said he was surprised to hear about the alert because he travels often.

For Americans traveling overseas to Europe this summer, the State Department recommends:

  • Following instructions of local authorities
  • Keeping an eye on media and local information sources
  • Being prepared for additional security screenings and unexpected disruptions
  • Keeping close contact with family members
  • Having an emergency plan of action in place
  • Registering with Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) on the State Department’s website

The travel alert also states that the United States routinely shares intelligence with European partners, so this may come from intelligence recently sent between Europe and the U.S.

For those fearful of overseas travel, Busutil gave the following advice: “I tell them not to be scared because that’s what they want, the terrorists.”

“I think the safety’s there,” said Pace. “These attacks can happen everywhere, and that’s our reality at the moment.”

The alert is set to expire on Sept. 1.

There was a travel alert in place over the winter holidays, which expired in February.

The Transportation Security Administration is scheduled to hold a press conference at the Miami International Airport on Tuesday. They are expected to offer travel tips ahead of the start of the busy summer season.

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