|MINISTER DISCUSSES GOVERNMENT SERVICES FOR TRAVELLERS|
|Diane Albonczy sits down with TRAVELHotNews.com to talk about the three R's of travel, the upcoming website and traveller responsibility|
Diane Albonczy, minister of state of foreign affairs for the Americas and consular affairs, is currently conducting a cross-Canada summer outreach tour.
|Diane Albonczy, minister of state of foreign affairs for the Americas and consular affairs
During her time in Toronto, Albonczy sat down with TRAVELHotNews.com to discuss the services the Government of Canada provides to Canadians when they are travelling abroad.
The minster advises Canadians to follow the “three R's of travel:" read-up, register, and reach us.
“We direct people to the travel.gc.ca website, or voyages.gc.ca ‘en Francais’, and it just has a wealth of information, which we’re actually expanding,” said Albonczy.
The new website will launch this fall and bring together information from 12 departments, agencies and crown corporations. The website is being designed to maximize the breadth of travel information available to Canadians before they visit a destination.
Prior to travelling, the minister strongly advises, whether planning a short vacation or a long term stay aborad, that Canadians register with the consul. This free and confidential service will keep travellers connected to Canada in the event of an emergency, such as an earthquake or civil unrest, or informed about an emergency at home. Canadians can register at travel.gc.ca.
Albonczy said that she believes it is critical that travel agents advise their clients to register with the consul when travelling abroad.
“A lot of people think it’s nobody’s business where they are. But travel agents know where they are. The airlines know," she said. "This is confidential information, but it can literally make a big difference if consular services know that you’re there and might need help.”
In the event of an emergency during travel, Albonczy says Canadians need to know that they can reach out to the consul for help, either by phone or by email.
“If there is a disaster and you need advice or support there’s a 24-7 hotline to call. You can call collect if you need to, and there’s [also] an SOS email address that you can email,” explained the minister.
The responsibility for keeping yourself safe lies with you,” said Albonczy. “A Canadian passport is not a get-out-of-jail-free card or a rescue from every ill.”
The minister explained to TRAVELHotNews.com that Canadians need to understand that being responsible for oneself when travelling, requires travellers to take the time to get informed, not only of the devices of support that the government can provide, but also on what the government can’t do.
While the government will do what it can to help Canadian travellers in an emergency situation, Albonczy pointed out that there are basic rules Canadians can follow to help ensure they stay safe while travelling.
“Knowing what the cultural conditions are, knowing where you should go and where you shouldn’t go, because we have travel warnings for very dangerous places," she said. "Also – what I call – keeping your ‘inner animal’ at bay, because a lot of people go on holidays and their whole behaviour changes. It’s like the civilized safe guards can be thrown out the window. Because you’re travelling you think that you can act in ways that you wouldn’t at home. But that’s not true.”