One of the top tourist destinations in the world, Nice sits on the French Riviera, just under 600 miles from Paris, which is still recovering from its own attack last November. French president François Hollande extended the country’s state of emergency, which had been in place since the Paris attack, for another three months.
“France is in tears… but it’s strong and will always be stronger than the fanatics who seek to attack it,” Hollande said.
Travel professionals and suppliers are dealing with the immediate fallout of the attack which grabbed headlines across the globe.
Tourico Holidays had two staff members and more than 100 clients in Nice during the attacks, EVP of global sales Lauren Volcheff Atlass told TMR, with 25 more scheduled to arrive today. While all are safe, the company has issued cancellation and change waivers to all its clients and guests scheduled for check-in in surrounding areas.
“Airlines will be flexible, so it’s important you change your flight immediately, but if you can afford the few days to allow the crowds at the airport to calm down, or take a train to another city near by to fly out of instead, it is highly recommended,” she said. “Tourico Holidays truly mourns these lost lives.”
In a letter to agents penned late last night, Ovation Vacations president Jack S. Ezon outlined—again—what agents should do in the wake of the attack.
Reaching out to all clients on the Cote d’Azur or anywhere in Europe, Ezon said the most important thing is to “reassure them that you are at their disposal and just sound concerned for them. Keep checking up on them, offering to help them in any way possible.”
We must lead through our words and our actions, reminding our clients that their travel is not simply for their own pleasure but contributes to the greater good of so many others and collectively us all.
He cautioned against specifically telling clients that any place is safe, noting that no one can “predict safety anywhere.”
Instead, “your job is to accurately paint the picture and put things into perspective. Nothing else,” he said.
In Nice, meanwhile, Travel Professional International vice president Tim Morgan posted on Facebook that the city is calm but “palpable shock and sadness” is apparent this morning.
“Nowhere is our travel advocacy more important,” he wrote. “We must lead through our words and our actions, reminding our clients that their travel is not simply for their own pleasure but contributes to the greater good of so many others and collectively us all.”
Passengers at Nice airport who had been evacuated after the attack were allowed back in the airport to pick up their bags on Thursday evening. Flights were landing and departing as usual only a few hours after the attack.
“Despite the dreadful events that occurred, access to the airport and air traffic won’t be disrupted,” the airport said in a statement.
Some European airlines are still giving travelers the opportunity to change or cancel flights in wake of the attack.
Easyjet and British Airways are allowing passengers scheduled to travel to and from Nice this weekend to cancel their flight or change their date or destination without penalty. “We’ll continue to be as flexible as possible to help our customers,” BA said.
In a statement to TMR, Cruise Lines International Assocation said its priority is to provide for the safety of passengers and crew at all times.
“Port and onshore facilities, infrastructure, and passenger security and services in destinations are strictly scrutinized. In the event of any safety concerns, cruise ships have the flexibility to alter their itineraries as needed to avoid areas of higher risk,” it said.
Ferry and Eurostar service are still operating normally.
Agents can also let clients know that the French government has launched a free smartphone app to alert users about possible security incidents, including all major natural, technological and terrorist-related risks, in up to eight geographical areas. Called SAIP (Système d’alerte et d’information des populations), it is available in English and French.