London : The British Foreign Office is changing its travel advice for countries to include a grade scale of the threat of terrorism, Foreign Office Minister Meg Munn has announced.
"We are now introducing four generic threat descriptors, intended to clarify the scale of the terrorist threat to the travelling public," Munn said.
"Drawing from our experience of what our customers need from travel advice, we consider that these descriptions are the most helpful to the travelling public given the innate difficulty of describing the threat," she told MPs on Thursday.
The four levels of language being used range from a 'high threat' to a 'general threat' to 'an underlying threat' down to 'a low threat' where there is no or very limited terrorist activity.
The system differs from the Home Office's warning system that is designed to inform the public about the official assessment of current threats from terrorist groups in the UK, which is based on five levels ranging from 'low' to 'critical.'
The Foreign Office minister said that the changes to the travel advice had come from the feedback from British travellers and tour operators about how the nature of the terrorist threat can be explained.
"Travel advice is designed to help British travellers to make informed decisions about travelling abroad and it is therefore kept under regular review to ensure that the information it provides remains of the highest quality," she said in a statement.
But Munn also clarified that it will "continue to draw on intelligence assessments, open source and media reporting, the local knowledge of our overseas Posts and their diplomatic reporting." "Our Travel Advice will continue to reflect the best judgements we can make at the time," she said. But she also added the caution that "as we have seen in the UK, it is possible for attacks to take place without prior warning."
The Foreign Office provides travel advice for 218 countries and territories, which it says is "based on the most accurate and up-to- date information available to us."
Last year, its advice website received an average of 150,000 visitors a week, while its call centre handled 62,700 telephone enquiries over the course of the year.