Condé Nast Traveler: On Thursday, the U.S. State Department has updated its Europe Travel Alert for American citizens. Originally published on May 1, the alert was set to expire on September 1, but was renewed yesterday and extended until November 30.
The State Department issued the original alert following terror attacks in France, Russia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, saying the attacks “demonstrate that the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS or Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe.” The update comes as little surprise, as Europe has seen attacks in the U.K, Finland, and Spain during the height of summer travel since the original alert was issued.
When reached for comment, a State Department spokesperson told Condé Nast Traveler “The State Department urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution while visiting tourist sites, using public transportation, and at public gatherings.” In particular, the agency said it updated the alert because “credible information suggests that there is a continuing threat of attacks in Europe by individuals linked to or inspired by terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qa’ida.”
While the sound of a Travel Alert may seem alarming, it is more of a precautionary statement. Comparatively, a travel warning, which the Department of State issues in instances such as civil war or political instability, can last for years, as opposed to the current three-month alert. The agency has previously issued similar alerts for seasonal and holiday travel, as it did at the end of 2016, though that alert expired in February 2017.
The State Department spokesperson reiterated U.S. citizens should enroll in the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and to stay up to date with the country-specific information on the State Department website. The STEP program allows you to upload details about your trip, including your passport number, flight details, and destination, to receive e-mail alerts regarding safety and security information during your trip. It takes only a few minutes to enroll, and could prove invaluable should any events occur while you’re traveling abroad. Read more.