On 6 June 2019, the “Travel Safely” information campaign and a mobile multimedia stand, “#EUprotects/ EU – Protecting Together”, were opened in the city of Valmiera. This summer’s campaign is organised to highlight benefits to individual travellers and families who travel in the European Union. At the multimedia stand, the visitors could meet with people from various walks of life who, in their daily work, provide invaluable support to their fellow-citizens in emergency situations. The launch of the campaign was moderated by a special guest, Baiba Sipeniece-Gavare.
One of the key players of the “#EUprotects/ EU – Protecting Together” campaign is the Head of the Consular Assistance Division at the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sandra Salmiņa-Šuke: she, in collaboration with other EU Member State experts and on a daily basis, has been rendering assistance to Latvian nationals who have encountered an emergency while abroad. Sandra Salmiņa-Šuke said she was certain that “only as part of a team, including with colleagues in the EU and worldwide, it is possible to help thousands of people deal with vital, unforeseen problems they are experiencing during travel. It is a special feeling – to help someone even without being there.” Although Latvia does not have its missions in many countries, any EU citizen has the opportunity to seek help at the mission of another EU Member State, as provided for in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The Head of the Communication Department at the European Commission Representation in Latvia, Jeļena Ābola, underlined as she presented the “#EUprotects/ EU – Protecting Together” mobile multimedia stand and opportunities offered by the EU: “Safe travel is just one of security aspects taken care of by the European Union and ensured through cooperation between various services at not only the local but also cross-border level. At our “EU – Protecting Together” campaign we are introducing you to professionals who work to make our day safe and protect us from trouble – be it human trafficking, bad quality food, cyber-attacks – as well as preserving and protecting our natural wealth. The work these people do often goes unnoticed, and we fail to appreciate how safe our life is here in Europe. We hope that this campaign will urge people to better appreciate their day-to-day security.”
To travel safely means to be prepared, said the Director of the Consular Department, Guna Japiņa. The Consular Department pays much attention on a daily basis to educating those travelling abroad. “Check the validity of your travel documents – passports or IDs –, obtain travel documents for children, get insured, taking care of both the European Health Insurance Card and a private travel insurance. It is also important that you maintain contact with your family members at home: in the EU, it is possible without any roaming charges. This is the most basic advice to everyone – the travellers themselves and their families – in order to avoid unwanted worries or costs,” Guna Japiņa underlines.
The Foreign Ministry also suggests that you use the following free-of-charge tools:
- registration with the Consular Register by entering information about yourselves, which makes it possible to contact you in the case of emergency and to check whether you need help;
- the Travel Safely mobile application offering information on how to obtain consular assistance, including by calling a round-the-clock emergency telephone number + 371 26 33 77 11.
Information updates for travellers are also available on the Foreign Ministry’s Facebook account @ceļodroši and its website at: www.mfa.gov.lv
“Although, as the saying goes, money cannot buy peace of mind, an insurance policy means nonetheless a certain sense of security that can be bought,” noted the President of the Latvian Insurers Association, Jānis Abāšins. “This is of special importance for a holiday trip, when you want to have a good time instead of solving problems. Therefore, it should be out of the question whether or not to get travel insurance. The only question could be what type of policy is needed and which risks should be insured. At this point, any traveller should evaluate their recreation and entertainment plans – whether they intend to go climbing, ride a scooter or take a flight with three connections. Luggage problems could also occur. And, of course, read the insurance rules very carefully. One of the most typical problems with travel insurance is the use of alcohol: for example, a glass of wine you’ve consumed could become the reason for your insurance claim to be turned down. After an accident, it is advisable to contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to clarify the best course of action and all details. May you all enjoy summer and safe travel!”
In order to remind people of travel-related benefits brought by Latvia’s accession to the EU 15 years ago, the Consular Department, in collaboration with the European Commission Representation in Latvia, the Latvian Insurers Association, airBaltic, the Valmiera City Council and other partners, is planning to hold a series of joint events on safe travel in the EU.
As part of the summer information campaign, outreach posters “Travel safely in the European Union” and “Travel safely with your family in the European Union” will be displayed at public transport stops and on stands in public space in Valmiera, Riga, Bauska, Daugavpils, Jelgava, Kuldīga, Liepāja, Sigulda, Tukums, and Ventspils from 3 June to 31 August 2019.
To illustrate the issue, animated videos have also been produced (in Latvian) on the following: how to prepare for a family trip in the EU; and what to bear in mind when travelling in the EU.
Due to support from cooperation partners, the videos will be shown at the Riga International Airport and the Riga International Bus Station, on information screens of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs in Riga and the regions, on trains, at the Customer Centre of the National Health Service and the Cēsis clinic, on the website of the Riga Maternity Hospital, the Delfi news portal, and elsewhere.
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