Just in time for the summer tourist season, the US State Department has issued a new travel alert for all of Europe due to the threat of terrorist attacks on the continent.
This is the fourth travel alert for Europe in the last year. There were only four months since March of 2016 when the State Department wasn't advising Americans to be careful because of the threat of terrorist attacks in Europe. The most recent one went out last November, to encompass the Christmas holidays and skiing season, and expired in February.
The latest one cites incidents, attributed to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, in France, Russia, Sweden and Britain. It does not mention any specific intelligence suggesting the State Department believes an attack is about to happen, but expresses a general concern about the potential for more attacks.
"US citizens should always be alert to the possibility that terrorist sympathiser's or self-radicalised extremists may conduct attacks with little or no warning," the alert states before listing potential targets that are pretty much anywhere people gather: tourist locales, transportation hubs, markets and shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions and airports.
US citizens travelling to Europe are urged to check the websites of the U.S. embassies and consulates for security messages, keep in touch with friends and family so they know your whereabouts and check local media for updates at the destination. They also encourage people register in the State Department's Smart Traveller Enrolment Program.
This travel alert expires September 1 . . . unless, of course, it's extended.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affair and Trade's Safe Travel website had no specific warning for Europe as a whole, but advises travellers to remember the "increased global risk of terrorism".
"Although New Zealand travellers are unlikely to be targeted deliberately, they are usually indistinguishable from any 'Western' tourist, and frequent places where other Western tourists are found," it read.
Destinations listed as being of "extreme risk" to visit were Russia, Turkey (near the Syrian border) and Ukraine, while Kosovo and other parts of Turkey were labelled "high risk".
France, which suffered several terror attacks in recent years was listed as "some risk", along with countries including Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom.