Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

Safety-conscious Kiwis say non

European bookings down after terror attacks in France.
French police responding to multiple terror attacks in Paris. Photo / Corbis
French police responding to multiple terror attacks in Paris. Photo / Corbis

Deadly terror attacks which left hundreds dead have seen a growing number of Kiwis shying away from holidaying in France.

On July 14 a truck laden with grenades and weapons ploughed into hundreds of revellers, killing 84 people, at Bastille Day celebrations in Nice. In November a series of attacks in Paris killed 130 people.

As unrest rises, travel agents here are receiving more questions from travellers about which areas are safe to visit.

Kiwis usually take off in droves to the European summer, and France is high on the must-visit list.

House of Travel marketing director Ken Freer said terrorism and political instability have made customers more security-conscious - and France was one country some Kiwis were starting to avoid.

"After Paris, we saw a drop in bookings to France, and Europe as a whole, for at least six weeks following the attacks," he said.

"As a result, there was a 4 per cent decrease in Kiwis travelling to Europe in June, which is traditionally a very popular time of year for travel there."

Freer said all tourists should register their details with SafeTravel and follow advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The ministry has published a list of areas which pose an "extreme risk" and should not be travelled to. It includes Turkey which has been the target of numerous terrorism attacks, civil unrest and last week a failed military coup.

Turkey's high-risk rating means tourists won't be covered by travel insurance if they are affected by terrorism, according to Southern Cross Travel Insurance chief executive Craig Morrison.

"Because Turkey has 'extreme' and 'high' risk ratings by MFat due to the unpredictable security situation, security force operations, threats of terrorism and kidnapping and the potential for violence and civil unrest, travellers going into that country take on a large risk and will not be covered for events related to this risk," he said.

"However, if you have to travel to an 'extreme' or 'high' risk country it's still a safe bet to be insured as while the policy won't cover you for events noted on the MFAT website, you'll be covered for expenses such as theft, illness or injury, provided they don't relate to the extreme or high risk events."

Meanwhile, sports fans travelling to Brazil for the Rio Olympics have not been put off by the threat of the zika virus, as it has had "minimal impact" on bookings with House of Travel.

"We have had two cancellations to the Rio Olympics due to the Zika virus, out of more than 1500 customers we are taking to the Olympics," Freer said.

Both were pregnant women who felt it was too risky to travel.

"We have recommended any pregnant customers intending to travel to destinations affected by the Zika virus speak to their doctor.

"International travel while pregnant is an entirely personal choice. With the help of their doctor, pregnant travellers need to make their own decision."

Southern Cross will not provide any cover to cancel or alter journeys due to fear of Zika as MFat hasn't released a travel advisory of "high" or "extreme" for Brazil.

"SCTI policies, like all of our competitors to the best of our knowledge, do not provide cancellation cover for claims relating to a pandemic, or the threat or perceived threat of a pandemic," Morrison said.

- Herald on Sunday

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