Travel companies have been urged to plan on a ‘wider’ scale for coping in the event of a terrorist attack at the industry’s first counter terror seminar.

At the seminar, specifically aimed at the travel industry and set up by Prevention of Fraud in Travel (PROFiT), firms were told to have a “business continuity plan” with strategies on how to deal with unexpected situations.

These include having a team of staff, including a senior executive, ready to deal with an unfolding emergency, from making operational decisions and authorising any necessary expenditure to communicating with staff in resort and dealing with legal, IT, and media issues. Companies should have a separate team to continue running the business.

PROFiT chairman Barry Gooch said there was “still work to be done” by the industry to ensure companies were as prepared as they could be.

He said: “Terrorism will become more of an issue. A terrorist incident is potentially one of the most complicated incidents you have to deal with as you might have a bomb in one place and a gunman somewhere else, it’s not limited to one place.

“The key is to have enough emergency training in place for the unexpected. There will be issues you don’t know anything about no matter how good your plan is.”

One of the biggest problems in any emergency situation is often communication, according to Gooch, who advised companies to use their staff and contacts in the most effective way possible. “You might have reps in a neighbouring resort [to the emergency location] who could act as helpers,” he said.

Training staff is key, he added, while counselling or time off for employees may be needed after an emergency situation.  A structured debrief after any emergency incident could also help a company learn vital lessons for the future, he said.

Abta head of destinations and sustainability Nikki White said the “relentless” nature of terrorist attacks over the last year had already prompted the industry to take more action to prepare for emergency situations.

Abta was recently given responsibility for developing training for members and reps overseas as part of Project Griffin, set up by the City of London Police, to advise and familiarise businesses on security and counterterrorism issues.

White said: “We have adapted Project Griffin’s training modules for the industry and we are developing training for reps overseas so they feel confident in knowing the right measures to take.”

Abta already has advice available for members, as part of its crisis management training, on how to deal with emergency situations.