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Program to receive up-to-date safety and security messages and to allow the Department of State to reach them in case of an emergency during their trip. Tour operators traveling with groups overseas, in particular, are advised to sign up with STEP to stay informed about any potential issues. Even with the best-laid plans, things can go wrong. You should recommend that travelers get medical and travel insurance appropriate to their trip and learn what the Department of State can and cannot do for a U.S. citizen in cases of emergencies overseas. For example, consular staff at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can help your clients in situations such as a lost or stolen passport, hospitalization, arrest, death or missing person—or if they have been the victim of a crime. The Department of State also stands ready to assist in the event of a crisis in the country where your client is travel- ing. The Bureau of Consular Affairs uses its Twitter feed and Facebook page to communicate timely, actionable infor- mation in emergencies. Visit the website for more in-depth coverage of the range of services pro- vided by U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. There you will also find infor- mation on specialized topics like travel- ing with pets, cruises, TSA Pre-check, Global Entry and religious travel. Travel professionals supporting visitors from abroad The website also has resources for travel professionals booking trips to the United States for international travelers. It provides an overview of the B1/B2 vis- itor and business visas, the online visa application process, and current visa appointment and processing wait times in any U.S. embassy or consulate around the world. Regardless of wait times, travel professionals should advise their clients to apply for a visa far in advance of travel if a visa is required. There is also information on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, also known as ESTA, for visitors from Visa Waiver Program coun- tries who qualify, and on the Electronic Visa Update System, which is required for Chinese tourists and business travel- ers. In addition, the site has several use- ful videos that explain the visa applica- tion process in simple steps, show what happens at a port of entry upon arrival in the United States, and detail how to use expedited automated entry systems at certain U.S. airports. The new website is a treasure-trove of useful information that will assist you in better handling your clients’ travel needs before and during their trip. Please add these links to your own website for your clients’ reference. After all, a better prepared and informed traveler is a safer traveler, one who is much more likely to travel again—using your services. Ogniana Ivanova-Sriram is an outreach officer in the U.S. Department of State’s Consular Affairs Office of Policy Coordi- nation and Public Affairs. afex.com Managing currency exposure takes expertise, and our team is the most trusted in the business At AFEX, we understand the challenges clients face when sending and receiving payments from around the world. Our tailored solutions for international payments and travel money can help you and your clients save time, minimize risk and reduce costs. Call us today to learn more on: +1 888 428 2339, or visit afex.com. NTAonline.com 13