Hongkong’s Security Bureau will begin issuing colour-coded Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) warnings from October 20, to alert travellers of potential trouble overseas.
The bureau, which controls police, immigration, customs and other uniformed services, will use amber, red and black alerts to identify three levels of risk. Amber denotes caution, red urges a significant threat, where travellers should avoid non-essential trips, and black urges travellers to avoid all travel to a specific destinations.
The ITA covers the 60 most popular countries and territories for business and leisure destinations for Hongkong-based travellers. The notices will be released through media outlets and a dedicated OTA website will be set up soon.
A Security Bureau statement said: “In assessing the need to issue an OTA, the Government will take into account a number of factors, including the level of threat to personal safety, duration of the threat and whether the threat is targeted at tourists. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will also liaise with the relevant Mainland (Chinese) authorities to obtain the latest situation overseas through the Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Missions there, and to make reference to any travel alert issued by the Mainland on the place concerned.”
The Security Bureau will publicise relevant OTA message through the media. People will also soon be able to visit a dedicated OTA webpage to check OTAs in force. Travellers were also urged to refer to Chinese central government and tourism databases and those of nations such as Australia, Britain and Canada for travel to destinations beyond the 60 key locations.
During the political turmoil in Thailand in 2008, thousands of Hongkong visitors were stranded and there were calls for greater co-ordination between the travel industry and Hongkong government to avoid similar situations.
The OTA scheme has been supported by airlines, travel agents and insurance companies.