Minister Koenders opens Holiday Expo: ‘Abroad is closer than ever before’

On Tuesday 13 January foreign minister Bert Koenders opened the Vakantiebeurs (Holiday Expo) at the Jaarbeurs exhibition centre in Utrecht. Addressing the audience of travel professionals, Mr Koenders said, ‘In a world where safety cannot be taken for granted, it is vital for travellers to be well prepared. My ministry helps them to do this.’

Joint responsibility of government and travel industry

‘The Dutch government and the travel industry have different responsibilities but a common goal: to prevent Dutch travellers abroad getting into trouble,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘Booking online has become so simple that we can order an air ticket by smartphone today and land in Africa tomorrow. And because travel is so easy, abroad is closer now than ever before. Also, when people are in faraway countries, they tend to have a false sense of security. It’s the responsibility of government and travel organisations to create the conditions that allow travellers to be well-prepared.’

Read our travel advice

‘It’s vital that as many Dutch people as possible read our travel advice before setting off,’ said the minister. ‘That’s where I’m calling on the travel industry to help. Several travel organisations have placed a link to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ travel advice on their websites. I’d like to see more travel providers following their example. We ourselves refer in our travel advice to major partners in the travel business, such as the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) for information about traffic safety, the National Travel Advice Coordination Centre for health information, and the various travel insurance companies. I hope that our travel industry partners will continue to refer people to our advisories, so that we can fulfil our responsibilities by working together.’

Travel Advice App

The Ministry revamped the popular travel advice section of its website in 2014. It is also making greater use of social media to keep in contact with travellers. A year ago it became possible for Dutch people to register online for updates on their countries of destination. Last summer a new Travel Advice App for smartphones was introduced. The advisories are easy to read and have a security colour code. ‘In the near future we’re going to simplify the travel alert system. In addition, the Travel Advice App will be enhanced with a contact button so users can directly contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 24/7,’ said Mr Koenders.

Register for email alerts

Currently, over 280,000 people have registered for email travel alerts. ‘We can reach these people day and night if there’s a significant change in their travel security situation. But of course we hope to reach a lot more people in the future,’ said the minister.

Ministry presence

Over the next few days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be represented at the Holiday Expo by a promotional team tasked with drawing visitors’ attention to the Travel Advice App. There will also be a customised travel service offering travellers advice that is tailored to their individual situation and travel plans.