Stop the terror warnings, urges Richard Branson

Foreign Office travel advisories do more harm than good, claims the Virgin founder

Sir Richard Branson has launched a scathing attack on the Foreign Office and other Western government departments for warning about terrorism in their travel advisories.

In today's newspaper, the Virgin founder demands an end to advice against visiting countries due to the risk of terrorism. He writes that warnings of the risk of attack "are exactly what the terrorists want".

The Foreign Office (FCO), in common with other Western ministries, frequently updates its advice to travellers. While the FCO has no power to prevent British travellers venturing to areas defined as dangerous, its advice has quasi-legal status. A warning about a nation or region invalidates most travel insurance. Tour operators are obliged to move clients out of affected areas, and to cancel future trips until the advisory is lifted.

Sir Richard says the West should change its response to terrorism: "The right thing is for every country to not put out advisories against nations that suffer terrorist attacks, but instead continue to aid them, through tourism and trade."

He cites a Foreign Office bulletin about Egypt, the Australian government's warning on Bali and US State Department alert on Kenya – which, he says, contributed to Virgin Atlantic abandoning its route to Nairobi. "Getting on with life is the best way to show terrorists they will not win."

The Foreign Office rejected Sir Richard's criticisms. A spokesman said: "We have a responsibility to make sure British nationals have the necessary information and advice so that they can make their own choices. We would rightly be criticised if UK lives were lost and we had not reflected a known terrorist threat in our travel advice."

But Sir Richard was backed by Paul Goldstein, co-owner of Kicheche Bush Camp in Kenya: "Irresponsible travel bans do not make places safer. They deny tourist dollars, breed discontent, increase unemployment and cause suffering on a massive scale." He said some advisories appeared to be politically motivated: "Kenya has been punished several times yet South Africa, with the highest murder rate in the world, is fine, as is Israel. It is nonsense."

A spokesman for Abta, the travel association, said: "When governments issue travel advice their primary consideration has to be the safety of their citizens, but potential damage to the relevant country's economy is also an important consideration. The UK Foreign Office has a good record in getting this balance right."

* On Friday the Foreign Office issued a warning for travellers to Turkey over May Day: "Demonstrations in the last two years have been relatively peaceful but there is a history of violence." The official advice also warns that the threat of terrorism is "high" and that "al-Qa'ida and other networks have specifically targeted Western interests in Turkey".

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee