OPERATORS who run tours to potentially volatile countries are being encouraged to adopt a voluntary code of conduct following the murder of four tourists in Yemen.

The Association of Independent Tour Operators wants to draw up guidelines for sharing information and agree a policy whereby all operators withdraw from a potential flash-point at the same time.

AITO’s eight-strong council will discuss the issue this week.

Chairman Paul Chandler said the code could only work if all affected AITO members agreed to it.

“It should not be a commercial decision when it comes to pulling out of certain countries and it would be easier if we established guidelines which operators could work to,” said Chandler.

“The problem is that while the Foreign Office does its best, the advice is never black and white.

“I believe we should be drawing up our own guidelines concerning the safety of certain destinations.

“The tough thing will be convincing everyone to adhere to this.

“There is no point going ahead with it if not everyone is in agreement.”

Chandler said the Foreign Office advice to Chile was typical of the uncertainty surrounding travel information.

“It warns that anti-British feeling could flare at any time because of the extradition case against General Pinochet,” said Chandler.

“It also says that British citizens should keep a low profile. But it doesn’t say don’t travel.

“We need members to get together and then make a joint decision.”

AITOoperators said there was merit in the proposal.

Peltours marketing manager Darren Panto said the safety of customers was paramount.

“If we are advised not to go to a country by the Foreign Office or tourist board, we will not go,” he said.

“But this is still an interesting proposition.”