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Meetings association's terror advice branded 'unrealistic'

Joint Meetings Industry Council's statement on terror threats criticised by event organisers

Pictured: The Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) says it wanted to form a clear position on how the meetings industry should react to ongoing terror threats

The Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) has warned the industry not to "overreact" or "discriminate" against individual destinations based on recent terror attacks, in a statement that has been called unrealistic by event organisers.

The body said it wanted to form a clear position on how the industry should react to ongoing terror threats, with JMIC president Joachim Konig adding that "freedom is not an automatic privilege but a task we must all contribute to".

It says meeting organisers should acknowledge responsibility for the safety of delegates, but added: "At the same time, we would actively discourage overreaction to such acts by governments and their security agencies in ways that would adversely and unduly impact the travel experience and / or unnecessarily restrict access by event participants to event locations."

The official statement goes on to say that destinations should not be discriminated against, and warns against being swayed by "often-sensational" news coverage.

"While certain destinations have received a lot of attention in this regard, the reality is that anywhere in the world may be targeted in future. This means that we should not unfairly discriminate against any individual destination unless there are immediate and specific reasons for concern," the statement says.

"The impacts of global terrorist-inspired events, while frightening in their randomness and cruelty, represent a very small proportion of travel-related challenges or even safety in one’s own place of residence. We therefore encourage that these events be put into perspective relative to the often-sensational coverage they typically receive from the news media, and will reflect this in our own communications."

AOK Events's Alex Hewitt said it would be "unrealistic" not to avoid destinations.

"Human nature dictates that people are either half glass full or half glass empty but it’s next to impossible to ask people to change. Doing everything you can to keep your family or your employees safe and healthy is a simple primal instinct. Whilst the chances of a repeat of the atrocious terrorist attack in Tunisia are unlikely, if given the chance to go there or to the Algarve, I think that 99.9 per cent of business travellers would probably go for the Algarve.

"At present nearly all of our overseas business events are taking place in mainland Europe where we at least know that the air space is safe. Enquiries for destinations like Egypt and Northern Africa have greatly reduced unsurprisingly. "

Taylor Bennett Partners director Russell Bennett added: "It's unrealistic not to pay attention to what's happening in the world around you. You'd always take into consideration the messages coming out from your own government on where is and where isn't safe to travel. Ultimately if you're considering a destination for an event you have to be mindful of security concerns going on around you. You're responsible for people's safety which is one of the biggest roles in this job."

Bennett added security was particularly big among American clients, saying that clients wanted to be walked through all security concerns when selecting destinations and venues.

He said: "I think as it is such a major concern I wouldn't say the event industry is overreacting because the nature of it is that you would never want anything to happen to your event. So if you were holding it in a country where something had happened recently, then you could be open for criticism should another attack take place."

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