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Travel industry urges ministry to post warnings

The travel industry claims the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) is not correct enough in its travel warnings.

Rolf Forsdahl, director of Federation of Norwegian Commercial and Service Enterprises (HSH), claims that UD does not provide good enough information to Norwegian tourists and travel agencies. He highlights among others the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

«They are more consumer oriented, and make it easier to orientate oneself in the world,» Forsdahl said.

UD normally limits itself to stating that Norwegian citizens should evaluate the necessity to travel to a specific location. The strongest warning the ministry has issued is against travelling to Iraq. UD is advising Norwegian citizens from travelling to Iraq and urges them who are already in the country to leave.

Too late
Forsdahl claims that the ministry often advise against locations which most people already know is dangerous. Locations Sweden and Denmark warn against are not always listed on the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ websites. However, Forsdahl said that the travel industry can not issue its own warnings and travel advice.

«We can not and will not enter into interpretation of foreign affairs, so we only relate to UD. Something else would be professionally irresponsible,» Forsdahl stated.

Well considered
Karsten Klepsvik, press officer at UD, confirms that the ministry is restrictive with issuing warnings, but stresses that this is a well considered policy.

«We base ourselves, among other things, on intelligence information, and we do not issue warnings without having concrete information to back it up,» said Klepsvik. «In addition, we are careful with issuing concrete travel advice.»

He states that experience show that Norwegians can use common sense.

Tore Bjørgo at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) evaluated UD’s information strategy during the Gulf War in 1991, and concluded that the ministry should issue more concrete travel information.

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