The 2015 Africa Travel Association Congress in Nairobi had lined up an impressive speaker list, some of which were truly inspirational while others, less for the topic than for the presentation, had this correspondent scrambling for tea to stay awake.

Not so, however, with Michael Becker, the CEO of GeoSure Global, whose topic and presentation provided an insight into how state-of-the-art risk assessment was to be done, what needed to be factored in, and how it needed to be shared.

He fittingly mentioned Kenya as an example, where the entire destination was slapped down with some of the harshest antitravel advisories imaginable, published first by Britain – clearly to push their own political agenda – and soon to be followed by the UK’s senior partner in crime, pun fully intended, the United States and some other Western crony nations.

The fallout was swift and literally destroyed the Kenya coast tourism industry when visitors were literally dragged off their beach side sunbeds, bundled into busses, driven to the international airport in Mombasa and flown home in a fully blown panic attack by their tour operators.

Dozens of resorts closed as a result though there was no shred of concrete evidence offered that tourists and beach resorts had been the target of terrorists. The fallout continued and then also hit the safari sector of Kenya, with a steep decline in bookings and – at least until last month – constantly falling visitor numbers. Conferences were cancelled, among them by the selfprofessed tourism friendship association SKAL which literally lost their proverbial shoes as their top honchos cut Kenya loose and ran.

It was such issues this correspondent, and eTN’s publisher Juergen Thomas Steinmetz discussed repeatedly with Michael Becker, agreeing on the need to treat different locations in a destination according to the local threat levels and not, as was the case in Kenya, punish an entire country with what in hindsight turned out to be a storm in a teacup presented as a Category 6 Hurricane by the perpetrators of the antitravel advisories.

Michael now made good of his promise to share some updated information about GeoSure Global and what services the organization offers, allowing potential travelers to a country like Kenya to make sense of the various locations and where to safely visit or which places best to avoid.

Wrote Michael in a mail just received:
Start quote:

GeoSure Global is a new technology providing personalized travel safety information. GeoSure solves the problem of location uncertainty and imprecise travel safety information, anywhere in the world. Available free in iOS and Android, GeoSure analyzes massive amounts of data from global sources fueling proprietary risk algorithms, delivering powerful, super granular safety ratings for nearly every city in the world. GeoSure provides “context” around safety by rating from 1 (perfectly safe) to 100 (extremely dangerous) for six safety categories: overall, physical harm, theft, basic freedoms, disease & medical and women’s safety, to assess relative safety, detailed to the street level. Data rich city safety ratings to this level of granularity have not existed until now.

In addition, ground truths (crowd-sourcing) enables users to share their experiences with others to help the community with safety tips, ideas and to reflect what’s really happening street level, real-time, anywhere. GeoSure is a worldwide platform for responsible users to share and post their experiences and insights – both favorable and unfavorable views – about cities, neighborhoods, tourist attractions, or anywhere travelers and citizens may visit.

To our knowledge, GeoSure has the only dedicated, data-rich women’s safety category for world-wide destinations. Use the personalization button for greater safety rating precision.

GeoSure is disrupting existing global safety information providers [such as foreign office antitravel advisories] and traditional risk maps, and is an invaluable travel tool for planning trips and during travel. It is also essential to share information daily about your own city or neighborhood at home for locals as well as out of towners to help understand safety conditions and to keep neighborhoods safer through awareness.

GeoSure has a platform, innovative solution and plan to help support tourism economies across Africa. We believe technology, utilized by conscientious citizen stakeholder/advocates, sharing their experiences locally in an accurate and responsible fashion, can reflect what’s really happening on the ground in Africa, real-time (“ground truths”). That information, if collected and distributed throughout the global travel ecosystem, can indicate an outlook which may be vastly different from misperceptions and help de-escalate negative impressions and misunderstandings travelers have about certain countries on the continent. By empowering citizens of Africa to express their observations on a localized basis, city and country safety awareness becomes a very powerful by-product of the initiative.

In addition to our technical solution, GeoSure has a plan to raise money from global Foundations dedicated to economic development to implement the initiative. If the plan can help to retain tens of thousands of jobs across Africa and help sustain the enormous revenue impact tourism has on the continent, cities, countries and the global tourism industry will flourish. Africa and many countries on the continent can play a key role in a sweeping change for the global travel & tourism industry.

GeoSure aims to elevate safety awareness worldwide, empower travelers and support tourism economies by reflecting shared insights on a highly localized basis and quantifying safety conditions for the benefit of countries, citizens and travelers.

Please visit the GeoSure website and download today from the App Store and Play Store!

End quote

No doubt is this one of the major new tools for the tourism industry in Africa, and of course beyond, where from hyped up Ebola scares to bar talk turned truth reporting by sections of the international media the continent’s main destinations for tourists have been anything from being talked down to literally being blacklisted. If GeoSure Global can deliver accurate and constantly updated risk assessments, free of the bias often shown by foreign office and embassy staff, it will be a major bonus for the tourism sectors in affected countries. In particular tourism boards should grab the opportunity to engage with GeoSure Global and see that they can paint a different picture about their respective destinations, offering clear and undisputable advice of where it is safe to visit and where not. This could avoid any repeat of a situation where perfectly safe safari tours are treated under the same threat levels as travel to for instance the Somali border would.

On this note is of course reading eTN and ATC News the next best alternative to find out about the situation on the ground in any destinations around the world and in particular in Africa, where a network of contributing writers and a large number of industry sources always provide the most accurate picture about a country. Little if anything escapes our correspondents and writers, one reason why eTN is the global market leader and ATC News has become the largest travel and aviation blog along the entire Eastern African seaboard and beyond.

For today though, it is from my and my colleagues a Happy New Year, Happy Landings and Safe Travels – not just today but for the entire 2016 and beyond.