Prevention mission by the former hostages returned from Pakistan completed

Bern, Press releases, 16.04.2013

Following an agreement with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss nationals who returned from Pakistan in March 2012 after being held hostage for eight months, gave six talks at vocational tourism schools in four cantons as a well as at the University of Bern. They also agreed to be interviewed by a travel magazine. The goal of the prevention campaign was to raise awareness among future tourism professionals and adventure travellers about the risks of travelling in regions the FDFA has advised travellers to avoid. The FDFA considers this mission to have accomplished its goal.

After their return, the two former hostages agreed to work for the FDFA's prevention programme in return for Switzerland's efforts to secure their release. They gave six presentations at four vocational tourism schools in the cantons of Zurich, Graubünden and Lucerne, as well as at the University of Bern. They also spoke about their experiences in captivity in a long interview published in the March edition of Globetrotter magazine. With a circulation of 45,000, this travel magazine reaches a large number of travel enthusiasts.

In their presentations, which drew some 400 future tourism professionals, the former hostages spoke about their first-hand experience of the painful and burdensome consequences of kidnapping, not only for themselves but also for their families and other people involved. They made it clear that it is very difficult, even for seasoned travellers who have thoroughly prepared their trip, to make a realistic assessment of risks – and that it is worth following the FDFA's travel advice. 

The FDFA considers this mission to have accomplished its goal. It believes that future tourism industry professionals who attended the presentations will draw on the insights gained from their encounter with the former hostages in their work and will pass them on to travellers, thereby contributing to a more widespread observance of the FDFA’s travel advice. The FDFA also hopes that the new contacts it has made with tourism schools will open up possibilities for future cooperation in the field of prevention.

Whenever Swiss nationals are taken hostage, the FDFA decides on a case-by-case basis and in the light of existing legislation whether the victims will share the costs of efforts to obtain their release. Federal Councillor Burkhalter believes it is important to raise citizens' awareness of the growing danger of kidnappings and other security risks associated with travel in certain regions. In addition to its travel advice, which is currently available for about 170 countries, the FDFA's awareness-raising instruments include the Department's presence at trade fairs  – most recently at the FESPO holiday travel trade fair in Zurich from 31 January to 3 February.

Contact for further information:

FDFA Information
Tel. +41 (0)31 322 31 53

Further information:

Travel advice (de, fr, it)
Terrorism and kidnappings (de, it, fr)

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs