Navigating Travel Advisories: A Public Relations Perspective on the Bahamas Warning

Sailboat in the Bahamas. Courtesy of Jordan Knibbe

The recent travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department for the Bahamas due to crime concerns underscores the critical role of public relations in the travel industry. This event is a real-world application of the communication theories and goals discussed in our MKTG 214 textbook, particularly highlighting the necessity for planned, goal-oriented communication in managing public perception and ensuring traveler safety.

The Goals of Communication in Public Relations:

  1. To Inform: Travel advisories serve as essential tools to inform and educate the public about potential risks, ensuring travelers are well-prepared and vigilant. This practice is vital for maintaining trust and transparency between governments, tourism organizations, and the public.
  2. To Persuade: The advisory also subtly persuades travelers to take specific actions, such as exercising increased caution or avoiding certain areas. While not overtly aggressive, the advisory’s underlying message aims to influence travelers’ decisions, ensuring their safety without causing unnecessary panic or harm to the destination’s tourism sector.
  3. To Motivate: For local authorities and tourism operators, such advisories motivate efforts to improve safety measures and address issues that could affect tourism. This aligns with the goal of motivating stakeholders towards collective action, a common objective in organizational communication.
  4. To Build Mutual Understanding: Finally, travel advisories can facilitate mutual understanding between travelers and host countries. They provide a platform for dialogue on safety concerns, fostering cooperation and empathy, rather than conflict or misunderstanding.

Applying Communication Theories:

  • Two-Step Flow Theory: In the context of the Bahamas advisory, the theory reflects how information is disseminated through influential media outlets to the public, emphasizing the role of targeted communication in the digital age.
  • Concentric-Circle Theory: This can be seen in how travel safety information gradually reaches wider audiences, from government agencies to tourism stakeholders, and finally, to travelers, influencing public opinion through trusted leaders and networks.
  • Pat Jackson’s Five-Step Process: The advisory serves as a ‘triggering event,’ prompting both immediate behavioral change (e.g., travelers choosing alternative destinations) and longer-term strategic adjustments within the travel industry to address safety concerns.


This real-world scenario exemplifies the importance of strategic communication in public relations within the travel industry. By informing, persuading, motivating, and building understanding, travel advisories play a crucial role in managing crises and maintaining a destination’s reputation. The application of traditional communication theories further illustrates how effectively crafted messages can guide public response and behavior in complex situations.


Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): For travelers seeking additional peace of mind, enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) can be a proactive way to stay informed about safety conditions in your destination country. STEP enrollment provides regular updates from the U.S. Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.


Nassau, U. E. (2024, January 24). Security Alert – U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas. U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas.

Seitel. (2007, January 1). The Practice of Public Relations (14th ed.) [EBook]. Prentice Hall.

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