Travel industry calls for more data sharing after attacks

  • World
  • Thursday, 02 Jun 2016

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Governments and travel companies must do more to share data to intercept and prevent attacks, the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said on Wednesday, a day after the United States issued a warning to travellers over security in Europe.

Travel and tourism shares fell on Wednesday after the United States said possible targets could include the European football championship in France, starting this month, although it added there was no specific threat information.

"One of the things as an industry we've got to get better at is getting to a point where we will share data when it needs to be shared to allow the authorities to intercept and prevent these terrorist attacks," WTTC head David Scowsill told Reuters on the sidelines of the annual International Air Transport Association meeting in Dublin.

He said governments were not very good at sharing data across borders while in the travel industry data was held variously by airlines, travel agents, tour operators and booking system providers, making it hard to join up the dots.

"At some point as an industry we have to move towards a system where that data can be aggregated and shared and assessed by people in the intelligence services. We haven't even begun to get our heads around it but that will be important for the future," he said.

In one example of cooperation, the European Parliament gave final approval in April to an exchange of airline passenger data between security forces in the European Union, after some governments made a renewed push for it following recent deadly attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Scowsill said he didn't believe the latest U.S. advisory, which is valid until the end of August, would have an impact on summer booking figures from the United States to Europe because people would have already booked trips by now.

He said WTTC analysis of crisis events showed destinations on average take around 13 months to recover from an attack, against 21-26 months for disease, environmental disasters or political turmoil.

"Travellers are much more resilient now than 20 years ago," Scowsill said.

However, speaking in Norway, an executive from low-cost carrier Ryanair said there could be a cumulative effect from recent incidents.

"People have short memories but if we have France followed by Brussels followed by potentially EgyptAir and maybe something else, I think that it could have an ongoing depressive effect for the industry," Chief Commercial Officer David O'Brien said.

(Additional reporting by Joachim Dageborg in Oslo; Editing by Mark Potter)

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