Outbound Travel Alert system effective today

     The Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) System, aimed at helping Hong Kong residents better understand the risks to personal safety in travelling overseas, came into effect today (October 20).

     Residents may visit the new OTA webpage to check the alerts in force. Its address is (www.sb.gov.hk/eng/ota).

     "The system, which uses amber, red and black to differentiate between different levels of risk, will cover 60 countries which are more popular travel destinations for Hong Kong residents," a spokesman for the Security Bureau said.

     "Where there are signs of threat in a certain place that may affect the personal safety of Hong Kong travellers, an amber alert will be issued to remind them to monitor the situation and exercise caution in the area concerned," he said.

     The amber travel alert has been issued for four countries, namely Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand and Turkey.

     "A red alert signifies significant threat, and Hong Kong travellers should adjust their travel plans and avoid non-essential travel to the place. Where there is severe threat, a black alert will be issued and Hong Kong travellers are urged to avoid all travel to the relevant place," the spokesman said.

     No red or black alert is now in force for any countries.

     To check the travel risk for other places, the public may refer to the databases compiled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the National Tourism Administration, or by foreign authorities like the Australian, British and Canadian governments.  The OTA webpage will have hyperlinks to the relevant websites.

     "Outbound travel is a personal decision, but the Government encourages Hong Kong residents to make reference to the OTA before firming up their travel plans,กจ the spokesman said.

     "Travellers should find out from their travel agents and airlines the arrangements regarding their outbound trips to destinations flagged with an OTA.  They are also advised to take out travel insurance with terms and conditions of compensation that suit their needs.  The airline, travel agent and insurance sectors have been briefed.  They support the launching of the OTA system and have made complementary adjustments," he added.

     Hong Kong residents who need assistance while outside Hong Kong may call the hotline of the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit of the Immigration Department at (852) 1868.

Ends/Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Issued at HKT 11:12