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Canadian travellers warned of hurricane season


August 30, 2006   by Canadian Underwriter


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Canadians are being urged to review their travel plans and take necessary precautions when visiting regions forecasted to be affected by hurricanes.
The warning comes from The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, whose announcement was made in response to the potential damage of Ernesto.
MacKay told Canadians that it is important to take charge of their own safety when travelling abroad. In order to do so, he says individuals must prepare accordingly by using up-to-date information. Specifically MacKay refers to http://www.voyage.gc.ca, as a source for such information.
“Our goal is to encourage safe and hassle-free travel abroad by urging Canadians to take a precautionary approach,” MacKay says.
Canadians who choose to travel to hurricane-prone regions during the annual June-November tropical storm season are advised to:
* Confirm travel arrangements prior to departure and ensure that travel insurance allows for trip cancellation/interruption in the event of a hurricane.
* Check the Consular Affairs website’s country-specific “Travel Reports” and “Current Issues” to obtain up-to-date information and advice about destinations.
* Ensure that copies of travel documentsincluding the name of tour operators, flight details, hotel name and location, room number and telephone numbers, cruise ship details and itinerariesare left with family or friends in Canada.
* Consider registering with the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) registration service at http://www.voyage.gc.ca. Registration can be done online or by calling the responsible Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate abroad to request a registration form.
* Monitor local news broadcasts and weather reports carefully; follow the advice, including departure orders, of local authorities and/or tour operators; and know how to contact the nearest Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate.
* Carry details on how to contact DFAIT’s Emergency Operations Centre at 1-800-267-6788 (from the United States or Canada) or 613-996-8885, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and accepts emergency collect calls from Canadians requiring assistance abroad.
* Check weather forecasts for the region from the National Hurricane Center in the United States. Environment Canada’s Canadian Hurricane Centre also provides recommendations on hurricane preparedness.
* Contact their close friends and relatives to let them know of their well-being (in case of a major storm or incident).
According to MacKay,many companies in the Canadian travel industry offer some flexibility if weather conditions are adverse before and during travel. In the event of a hurricane, some tour operators and airlines will make an assessment on a case-by-case basis of the category and severity of the storm and, if warranted, allow affected travellers to opt to travel as planned or to change travel dates and/or destinations.