The winter season is a popular time for Britons hoping to escape the cold and seek warmer climates, or head to European cities to explore their festive Christmas markets. Data from ABTA shows that 4.7 million Britons jetted off on holidays during the Christmas and New Year period alone last year. Unfortunately, in recent years this has also been a peak time for devastating acts of terrorism. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office, use up-to-date statistics on national security to determine the likelihood of a terrorist attack. While the terror threat at home has been lowered to substantial, how does it fare in your favourite winter destination?
France is a popular winter destination thanks to its selection of Christmas markets to its beautiful ski resorts. In the last few years, terrorists have caused devastation at Christmas markets in the region by launching unexpected attacks.
Last year the country was forced to upgrade its security threat level after a gunman shot three people dead and injured a further 12 in an attack on Strasbourg’s Christmas Market.
However, the incident has not stopped France from running its celebrated markets, and travellers will be able to lap up the festivities this year. Police presence is highly likely at the market’s across the country to try and keep visitors safe.
At present, the FCO states that terrorist attacks are “very likely” to happen in France.
A statement on the FCO website reads: Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in France. Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), the French government has warned the public to be especially vigilant and has reinforced its security measures.
The FCO advise visitors to stay informed on any counter-terrorism advice issued by the French authorities.
From Berlin to Cologne, Germany is renowned for its kitschy Christmas market offering. Tourists flock in their masses every year to get their hands on a Bratwurst or take in the sparkling lights and dusting of snow.
In 2016, Berlin experienced a heartbreaking truck attack on its famous market. This has led to a heightened security presence over the years to try and combat similar incidents. Unfortunately, following a recent shooting in the city of Halle, eastern Germany, on 9 October, the FCO has increased the terrorist threat in the country.
According to the FCO website: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Germany.
“The German government has announced that increased security has been put in place as a precaution at public buildings, major events, transport hubs and large public gatherings. You should be vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.”
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Egypt has long been a popular tourist haunt for Britons desperate to get a taste of the sun in the colder months. With average temperatures across December and January hitting an average of 23 degrees celsius by day, it’s a perfect sun-kissed escape. Plus, with the UK government recently lifting its ban on flights to Sharm-El Sheikh there is likely to be a much wider flight offering this year.
The FCO recently removed their advice for “all but essential travel by air to Sharm el-Sheikh.”
However, they still retain the following terrorism threat statement: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Egypt. Although most attacks occur in North Sinai, there is a risk of terrorist attacks across the country. Attacks could be indiscriminate, affecting Egyptian security forces, religious sites, large public gatherings and places visited by foreigners. There is a heightened threat of terrorist attacks in or around religious sites and during religious festivals, such as the month of Ramadan and the Christmas period (including Coptic Christmas), when terrorist groups have sometimes called for attacks. Terrorist attacks have occurred over local holiday weekends. Terrorists have attacked tourists in Egypt in the past. There is a heightened threat of terrorist attacks targeting Coptic Christians from extremists linked to Daesh-Sinai in Egypt.”
The government body advise staying up-to-date on public holidays for the duration of time spent in the country.
Britons seeking a milder temperature may turn to Turkey in the winter months, with a climate average of around 10 degrees celsius. The country is also a hotspot for skiing and perfect for those wanting to hit some unique slopes.
The Turkish authorities have successfully disrupted planned attacks in the past. The FCO website currently states: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Turkey.
“Most terrorist attacks have taken place in the south-east of the country and in Ankara and Istanbul. “While there is a potential that citizens from western countries may be targets or caught up in attacks, particularly in the major cities, attacks are most likely to target the Turkish state, civilians and demonstrations.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate, affecting public buildings, major events or large public gatherings. Be vigilant around significant religious occasions and public holidays; terrorist groups sometimes call for attacks around these times.
“Previous methods of attack have included armed assaults, suicide bombings, car bombings and rocket attacks and improvised explosive devices left in refuse bins, crowded areas and on public transport.”
There is also a “heightened risk of terrorist attack against the aviation industry in Turkey.”
Tourists are advised to follow the instructions of local authorities and be aware of local news.