With a very serious, but also very vague, travel warning issued for Europe, American tourists are wondering if they should still hop across the ocean or cancel their European vacation plans.
Those in the travel industry say the chances that you specifically will be attacked are minimal. But at least one security expert asked: Why take the risk?
"Travelers should read the alert carefully and understand it fully. The alert does not encourage citizens to cancel trips; rather, it recommends they be extra vigilant during their travels," said Genevieve Shaw Brown, senior editor at Travelocity. "Call volumes at our call centers remain normal and there's been no report of increased cancellations. However, we'll be monitoring this very closely to see if that changes."
(The text of the travel alert is here.)
"I don't think anyone should cancel a trip," added George Hobica, president of airfarewatchdog.com "The chances of something happening to a particular individual are very, very slim."
But Isaac Yeffet, a former head of security for the Israeli airline El Al who now runs his own firm, Yeffet Security Consultants, said that this is a credible threat and that travelers should take note of how seriously authorities are taking it.
"If you ignore it, you put yourself, your family and whoever is with you in jeopardy," Yeffet said. "If it was up to me to tell my friend or family, I would say this is not the right time to go."
Dan Nainan and his girlfriend have tickets to go to Europe at the end of the month.
"We are a little bit concerned, to say the least, and we're discussing whether or not to go forward," Nainan said. "I'm gung ho about going, because the chances of something happening to any one person are infinitesimal -- in fact, I feel that we're more in danger driving to the airport -- but she's worried about what's going on with the terrorist alert."
Bob Diener, co-founder of the U.S. and European hotel booking site getaroom.com, said he is seeing some travelers postpone or reschedule parts of their trips, but not cancel plans outright.
He sees some economic damage to the still-struggling tourism industry -- and said it's a good time to snap up some deals -- but predicted the impact will be short-term.
"We're probably talking in the millions of dollars. I just can't give you an exact number," Diener said.
"If people have the option and haven't booked yet, they might feel safer choosing an alternate destination that doesn't have an alert. It's really a personal choice," said Anne Banas, executive editor of travel website SmarterTravel. "The alert hasn't listed specific cities in the countries mentioned, so it's hard to know if any are more of a threat than others."
Cancellations right now are going to be costly. Airlines are not waiving fees for people who want to change itineraries. And most travel insurance policies only kick in if an actual attack has already occurred.