State of Alert: U.S. gov't warns travelers

WASHINGTON -- The State Department imposed a travel warning that urges U.S. citizens to defer all travel to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

It also updated its warning on Yemen, following the suspected terrorist attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.

The State Department also reiterated its worldwide caution, warning Americans living or traveling overseas to be watchful of potential terrorist attacks.

Violent clashes and confrontations continue to take place throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and in Jerusalem, Israel.

The U.S. Consulate General facility in Jerusalem was temporarily shut down.

The State Department said that U.S. citizens who require emergency passport services should contact the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

For other emergency services, U.S. citizens can telephone the consulate general in Jerusalem at 972-2-622-7230 or the embassy in Tel Aviv at 972-3-519-7355.

The U.S. government relocated its employees who live in East Jerusalem. Additionally, U.S. government employees have been prohibited from traveling to the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, including the Old City, and urged them to avoid the Jaffa section of Tel Aviv.

The department said that private U.S. citizens should defer travel to these areas at this time.

Closer to home, ASTA issued an announcement urging its members keep up to date on the various cancellation policies of suppliers with programs to the region.

The Society recommended that agents "monitor a variety of news sources," including www.twcrossroads.com, for updated details on supplier policies and industry-specific information.

ASTA noted that "cancellation policies will vary widely from supplier to supplier and possibly from hour to hour as the situation changes."

The Society recommended agents call suppliers' toll-free numbers and help desks as well as check individual supplier Web sites for current information on schedule/itinerary changes, cancellations and change/refund policies.

ASTA also recommended that agents do the following:

  • Contact clients who currently are traveling in the conflict region to let them know you are available to assist them if necessary.
  • Advise clients who experiencing difficulty in leaving countries to seek help immediately at the American consulate or embassy.
  • Inform clients planning to travel overseas that they may encounter additional security checks at airports.
  • Counsel clients planning to travel on trip cancellation insurance.
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