Category Archives: Travel alerts

Map Of Countries That Currently Have Travel Warnings

Thanks to the Orange County Register for providing this comprehensive map that overviews areas of the world that the US State Department has issued travel warnings.

Mexico still leads the way for countries in North America where it is still extremely dangerous when traveling in and around northern border states.

This is the link to the full report.

Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.

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State Department Issues New Travel Alert

Practically since the Twin Towers fell nearly 10 years ago, the U.S. State Department has issued a worldwide caution, a blanket advisory that travelers should be on guard anywhere they go. Now with the death of Osama bin Laden, that caution has been augmented with a worldwide travel alert, a short-term notice for U.S. citizens in effect through August 1st. It cites the “enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counterterrorism activity in Pakistan.”

On the other hand, since there is no specific threat to share, the Department of Homeland Security is stopping short of issuing an alert under the new National Terrorism Advisory System that does away with the former color coded model.

Many travelers who spoke with NY1 say the heightened warnings won’t change their summer vacation plans.

“To tell you the truth it doesn’t really affect me in any way. I wasn’t really afraid to travel before and I don’t think I’m going to be afraid to travel now. So the fact that Osama bin Laden has been killed doesn’t really change anything,” said one city resident.

“Ultimately he would have died from old age or us capturing him or being bombed so I don’t think it’s the event that is going to trigger a whole lot of other stuff,” said one city tourist.

For an older generation on the road, some swear by the protective confines of a group.

“We’ve done a lot of traveling since 9/11, we’ve done South America, Antarctica, Israel and when you travel with a tour or with major company, you’re safe, it should not inhibit you, I think if I was younger or more adventurous and traveling on my own I think I would be a little more concerned,” said one tourist.

U.S. Issues Travel Alert After Osama Bin Laden Killing

The State Department issued a travel alert Monday, warning Americans traveling or living abroad to be cautious about anti-American violence in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death.

In case the killing of the world’s most wanted man sparks violence among his followers, the U.S. government advised Americans abroad to stay in their homes or hotels if possible and to avoid mass gatherings or demonstrations.

The State Department said U.S. government agencies around the world are currently at “a heightened state of alert” and recommended that travelers keep up with the local media coverage and stay in contact with family and friends.

Americans traveling or living abroad can also enroll in the Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive travel updates and current security information, by going to www.travel.state.gov. This information can also be obtained by calling 1-202-501-4444 for people outside of the U.S. and Canada, or 1-888-407-4747 from inside the U.S. and Canada.

The travel alert issued Monday expires August 1, 2011.

U.S. Broadens Mexico Travel Warning

The U.S. State Department has broadened its travel warning for Mexico, advising citizens to avoid certain areas and steer clear of driving at night.

The new alert, issued late last week, urges Americans to defer nonessential travel in regions where drug-related violence has surged, including the border state of Tamaulipas and the central state of Michoacan.

It also warns against nonessential travel in parts of eight other states, significantly expanding the scope of an alert issued in September.

“There’s pretty much no state that hasn’t been touched by this. … We’ve seen some major, high-value cartel targets that have been taken down by the Mexican government, but that doesn’t appear to have quelled a lot of the violence,” said Fred Burton, vice president of the Stratfor global intelligence agency. “We see no short-term end in sight.”

The State Department notes that millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico every year. But it also says Mexico’s ongoing violence and security concerns pose “serious risks” for U.S. citizens, and urges travelers to take precautions.

“To reduce risk, you are strongly urged to travel only during daylight hours throughout Mexico, to avoid isolated roads and to use toll roads whenever possible,” the advisory says.

Americans with connections to Mexico had mixed reactions to the latest assessment of travel south of the border.

Friday’s warning was “a major red flag” and “quite a bit more expansive” than past alerts, said Kathleen Fairfax, vice president for global education at Arizona State University.

“We don’t have armored cars like the government does,” said Fairfax, who noted that school officials will meet this week to discuss how the new guidelines might affect study-abroad trips.

But reports of violence can be overblown, the leader of an expatriate group in Mexico said, describing his trip last month to a butterfly sanctuary in Michoacan, a stronghold of Mexico’s La Familia cartel.

“I felt totally safe there. We had no problem at all. You have to be mindful of what’s going on, but there aren’t people attacking anybody, especially expats,” Howard Feldstein said.

The 69-year-old retired small-business owner from Denver, Colorado, heads the Lake Chapala Society, an expatriate community center in the Mexican state of Jalisco with more than 3,000 members. The country remains a “great place to retire,” he said, despite security concerns.

“Life goes on. The people that live here do not live in fear of moving around freely. We’re just, perhaps, more cautious,” he said.

Mexico’s government has not issued an official response to the latest U.S. alert.

Tourism officials have repeatedly stressed that violence occurs mostly in areas along the border that are far from Mexico’s popular landmarks and beaches.

“We should not take the issue out of context,” Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board, said in a recent interview. “The distances are very, very great. You wouldn’t stop going to New York because of a problem in Dallas.”

But Burton, of Stratfor, said the latest U.S. State Department alert shows “the unpredictability of where this violence could happen next.”

“The fear is that as you are traveling the highways inside Mexico, that you could be victimized in some sort of roving roadblock,” he said.

Blocking major thoroughfares to prevent police and military reinforcements from arriving has become an increasingly common tactic employed by drug gangs across Mexico.

The State Department advisory warns of carjacking and highway robberies and notes, “Violence along Mexican roads and highways is a particular concern in the northern border region.”

Drug cartel members blocked roads with hijacked vehicles in the border states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas over two days in March. During clashes with federal police in December, suspected members of La Familia set trucks and buses ablaze on highways in Michoacan.

Mexican government figures indicate more than 34,600 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon announced a crackdown on cartels in December 2006.

The number of U.S. citizens killed in Mexico increased from 35 in 2007 to 111 in 2010, the State Department said.

More than a third of the 2010 reported slayings of U.S. citizens occurred in the border cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, according to the State Department.

“There is no evidence that U.S. tourists have been targeted by criminal elements due to their citizenship. Nonetheless, while in Mexico you should be aware of your surroundings at all times and exercise particular caution in unfamiliar areas,” the alert says.

Friday’s warning also specifies dangers and advises against nonessential travel in parts of the states of Durango, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Jalisco, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora and Zacatecas.

Travelers should exercise caution visiting parts of Baja California, Guerrero, Nayarit and Nuevo Leon, the advisory says.

U.S. Department of State Issues Current Travel Warnings

Travel Warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff. The countries listed below meet those criteria.

Bahrain 03/22/2011
Japan 03/21/2011
Algeria 03/16/2011
Mauritania 03/11/2011
Afghanistan 03/08/2011
Yemen 03/06/2011
Cote d’Ivoire 03/02/2011
Mali 03/02/2011
Eritrea 02/27/2011
Libya 02/25/2011
Egypt 02/18/2011
Pakistan 02/02/2011
Haiti 01/20/2011
Central African Republic 01/14/2011
Niger 01/12/2011
Nepal 01/12/2011
Sudan 01/07/2011
Kenya 12/28/2010
Somalia 12/27/2010
Saudi Arabia 12/23/2010
Chad 12/08/2010
Guinea 12/03/2010
Congo, Democratic Republic of the 11/25/2010
Colombia 11/10/2010
Iraq 11/05/2010
Burundi 11/04/2010
Philippines 11/02/2010
Nigeria 10/19/2010
Lebanon 10/08/2010
Iran 10/08/2010
Mexico 09/10/2010
Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of 08/27/2010
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza 08/10/2010
Uzbekistan 07/22/2010