Officers at the scene. Picture: AFP/Getty Images.

South African holidaymakers affected by yesterday’s attack in Barcelona, Spain, should follow the advice of local authorities, says Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) ceo, Otto de Vries. 

Thirteen people were killed after a van ploughed into pedestrians in a suspected terror attack in the Spanish city yesterday. 

The UK Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued guidance for travellers who are in Barcelona or who are planning a visit following a suspected terror attack. They are advising people to stay away from the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona, and mention that terrorists are “likely to try to carry out attacks in Spain”.

The travel advisory says: “Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. The Spanish authorities take measures to protect visitors, but you should be vigilant and follow the instructions of the local authorities.”

Authorities say that if you’re caught up in an ongoing incident, it’s important to turn any mobile phones or other devices to silent, and do not put your location on social media. If you are safe, follow the instructions of the Spanish authorities and notify friends and family via social networks, to avoid using phone lines. A helpline has been set up on +34 93 214 21 24. 

De Vries explains that travellers can also turn to their ASATA-accredited travel agency for advice as the traveller’s peace of mind when travelling is a top priority. “Travel consultants and TMCs associated with ASATA have a duty to divulge information about ‘dangerous’ destinations as well as unusual threats to their clients. That is why they will make sure they disclose any red flags or warnings about a destination, including terror threats.”

“Travel consultants will also endeavour to assist their clients with real-time advice and solutions. They will assist with making alternative travel arrangements, provide the traveller with useful information and reduce the travellers’ levels of uncertainty and feelings of helplessness.”