Contact: Eben Burnham-Snyder, Rep. Markey - 202-225-2836

Americans deserve to know safety record for overseas travel destinations before they arrive

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2013) – Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power introduced H.R. 1370, “The International Travelers Bill of Rights Act of 2013.” This vital legislation will help protect Americans traveling abroad by requiring websites that market international travel services to provide consumers with information regarding the health and safety conditions at destinations advertised on the sites.   In 2011, 824 Americans died overseas due to unnatural causes. 

“As families and students in Massachusetts and around the country leave on spring break vacations, they should not have to leave behind the right to know the health and safety details about their international travel destinations,” said Rep. Markey, who has fought to protect consumers throughout his career in Congress.  “Information about a destination's health and safety is the most important item to pack for international travelers.  We need transparent, accurate and up to date information on the safety and medical care available at overseas destinations so Americans can make informed decisions before they arrive. I urge my colleagues to move this important bill forward.”

Maureen Webster, the head of the Mexico Vacation Awareness Organization said of the legislation, “I am thrilled that Congressman Markey will be reintroducing the International Traveler’s Bill of Rights. Since the tragic death of my son Nolan in Cancun Mexico, my family and I have worked hard to have this important bill become a law. The safety information that this bill will require the travel industry to provide will assist travelers in making an educated decision. The safety information that this bill will provide, is information that I wish was available to Nolan prior to booking a trip to Cancun.”

In January 2007, while vacationing with his girlfriend as a graduation present in Cancun, Nolan drowned in the hotel pool. Witnesses said there were no lifeguards, nor did any staff know CPR. It took an ambulance 30 minutes to arrive. The resort doctor finally refused to treat Nolan.

The bill requires travel services websites to provide their customers with health- and safety-related information on overseas travel destinations. Travel websites would have to disclose when trained medical staff are available at the resort and what training they have, when lifeguards are available and what life-saving equipment, such as automated external defibrillators, are available. If any of this information is not available, a clear and conspicuous notice must appear on the site to inform visitors that certain health and safety information is not available and therefore travel to those destinations may pose an increased risk to health or safety. The bill would also require websites to clearly display travel warnings and travel alerts issued by the State Department.