Travel advisories are regularly given by different governments to warn their citizens of any potential risk in traveling. They can serve as reminders even to non-citizens of prevailing difficult conditions in a particular place such as war, local uprisings, natural disasters, and health scares. At times, they are directed to citizens to because of political reasons. As travelers, should we be seriously taking heed of travel advisories?
People who love to travel are already used to the different time zones that most countries have. Sudden changes in the time and weather may prove to be a problem on adjusting to such if a person is not used to such fast paced evolution and lifestyle.
For people, traveling to any part of the world such as the United States, Europe and Asian continents would need body clock adjustments as well. The cultural practices and traditions are not the only immediate things that globetrotters should worry about but rather their ability to cope up with change.
Climate also entails being ready for the level of health a person is able to sustain. Sudden changes like cold and hot temperatures would need standby requirements of medicine or clothing just in case to ensure that the human body does not suffer a sudden burst of bodily reaction towards such external factors of nature from any part of the world that they may want to visit.
Jamaica has always been a sought after destination for many Americans (and non-Americans for that matter). If you are planning on going there any time in the near future, though, you might want to think about it again. Late last week, the US State Department issued a travel alert for the country.
The reason for the alert is that reports are coming in about criminal gang members gathering in Kingston. Never mind that the reports are unconfirmed – Jamaican defense forces are “responding” to the potential threat already. And in spite of the fact that the reports are not confirmed, the US Department of State is being careful. Here’s a snippet of the alert:
The possibility exists for violence and/or civil unrest in the greater Kingston metropolitan area. There are unconfirmed reports of criminal gang members amassing in the Kingston area, as well as mobilization of Jamaican defense forces. If the situation ignites, there is a possibility of severe disruptions of movement within Kingston, including blocking of access roads to the Norman Manley International Airport. The possibility exists that unrest could spread beyond the general Kingston area. U.S. Embassy Kingston is taking extra security precautions. This Travel Alert expires on June 21, 2010.
More info in case of an emergency:
Emergencies involving American citizens can be reported by contacting the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit of the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section, located at 142 Old Hope Road in the Liguanea area of Kingston, telephone (876) 702-6450; after hours emergency telephone (876) 702-6000; Consular Section fax (876) 702-6018; and e-mail at [email protected] The U.S. Consular Agency in Montego Bay has moved and is now located at Whitter Village, Ironshore, telephone (876) 953-0620. The U.S. Consular Agency in the Cayman Islands is located at 118 Dorcy Drive, Suite B-1, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, telephone (345) 945-8173.
Here’s the deal though – despite all these warnings and alerts, travel is usually still safe in many areas. If I were you, I would find a local and ask about the actual situation before altering arrangements that have already been made.
The US State Department is known for issuing travel advisories to its citizens on a regular basis. While I understand the need for this and appreciate the rationale behind it, I am also iffy about their warnings, especially when it comes to The Philippines. I guess it’s because I am a local and I feel that I know more about the safety here than they do.
Anyway, I just read that the State Department has lifted the travel warning it issued on Syria. The New York Times reports:
The United States has lifted an advisory that warned American travelers about security concerns in Syria, officials said Saturday, as Washington tries to thaw relations with the Syrians, who are seen as crucial to peace in the region.
Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, welcomed the decision and said “both sides will start taking practical steps” to improve relations.
“We are willing to see a real development in these relations, and from our side we will do what we have to,” Mr. Moallem said. He did not specify what steps Syria would take.
Syria remains on a United States list of countries supporting terrorism, a designation made in 1979 because of suspicions that Syria collaborates with Iran to supply munitions to radical Islamist groups.
I do not know anyone who has plans to travel to Syria right now but in case any of you have been wanting to visit the place, then it might be a good time to consider it. You never know if/when another warning will be issued.
Before any of my fellow Filipinos react, let me say that I am in no way in agreement with this extension. In fact, the reason for my writing this post is to express my disagreement with it! This travel alert against the Philippines was issued late last year after the egregious issue of the Maguindanao Massacre hit international headlines.
We all have to admit that that was a horrible affair and that it did nothing to improve the image of the Philippines. Everyone condemned – and continues to do so – that incident. However, that does not mean that the Philippines is an unsafe country. In fact, in the past months, I have interacted with numerous foreign visitors – and each one of them have all their hair in their heads untouched.
For one, Maguindanao is in the southernmost island of the Philippines. There are many tourist attractions in other parts of the country that are totally safe – both for foreigners and locals alike. That massacre is not an ordinary happening in our country and not everyone is like whoever those people behind that massacre are.
Indeed, I went on a trip in December – to a province that is not very touristy. This weekend, a group of my friends are on a weekend trip to another isolated island in the northern part of the country. They are perfectly safe.
This travel alert is a prime example of how the news can be exaggerated and how mountains are made out of mole hills. Primary lesson: don’t believe everything that you hear or read. Not even when it comes from the government. Maybe especially when it comes from the government.