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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The case of Warnings Vs Alerts- Travel advisories

Tourists are known to want to travel to all sorts of places around the world, despite the fact that some of those very destinations have been riddled with conflict and political problems. To help protect their citizens from possible threats, a number of governments provide travel warnings and alerts to their citizens which offer details about the pros and cons of visiting a particular destination and request their citizens not to visit a particular destination if it has been deemed unsafe to do so. In fact, in the past few years, the UK, Canada and US governments have released alerts and warnings with regards to a number of countries in South America, Africa and Asia. However, a number of these destinations have also been known to be extremely popular tourist destinations, leading to a clash of conflict in the touristís mind. So how do you differentiate from travel warnings and alerts and determine whether to actually make that particular trip or not. To clearly understand the concept of government issued travel warnings and travel alerts, it is important to understand how to evaluate them and know the reasons behind their release.

Travel Warnings and Alerts issued by governments

Governments issue travel warnings from time to time to make their citizens aware of the various safety concerns relating to a particular country or region which may affect travel to that destination. These warnings are issued for a number of reasons such as health emergencies, natural disasters, terrorism, political unrest and crime outbreaks. Most governments ensure that they offer tourists with distinct short term and long term travel warnings. Long term travel warnings are considered to be extremely serious as they are issued when conditions of a particular country make it unstable or dangerous. A short term travel warning is far lighter than its counterpart and is mainly used to cover a temporary problem such as conflicted elections or natural disasters. While these advisories cannot legally stop a tourist from visiting the country in reference, it is important to understand that they have ultimately been issued in public interest. Irrespective of whether you ultimately make the journey or not, your government will always try and help you in case of emergencies. However, in the end it is up to you to be smart enough and base your decisions on logical factors rather than whims and fancies.

Evaluating Travel Warnings and Alerts

Before deciding to act on a travel warning or alert, it is important to understand how to evaluate them. Here are a few points that can help you understand the entire evaluation process and judge for yourself whether travel to the particular region is safe or not.
1. The geographical area that has been affected. In most cases, the conflicts and problems are restricted to small geographical regions and do not affect the entire country as a whole. It is possible for you to find a lot of conflict in a particular state while the rest of the country remains as hospitable as ever. You need to determine the scope of the conflict. If the problems exist in certain states or particular regions, you can simply avoid them and alter your itineraries to visit other parts of the country.
2. The perceived danger. It is important to understand what type of attacks have been held in the country that you wish to travel to and who are the targets. If an assault is made against foreign tourists, then you need to think twice about visiting the place. However, if there is a problem among locals, you can still be able to visit the destination as long as the violence occurs far away from the popular tourist destinations of the country.
3. The date on which the warning was posted. For all you know, you could be looking at a warning that has long expired and does not apply any more. Make sure that you check out the date on which the warning was posted and update yourself with the current status of the destination you plan to visit.
4. Can you avail travel insurance. You could always check if travel insurance is an option for your particular journey. If the insurance provider offers travel insurance, you could think about visiting the country as it would not be so serious. However, if the insurance has been rejected on safety grounds or due to the fact that your destination has been deemed as unsafe, you would want to think twice before making that journey.
5. Do other governments offer their citizens with the same warning. To get a bigger picture, you can always check out what other developed countries have advised. As long as the problems are not concentrated to a particular nationality, you should have no problems in getting the big picture by comparing travel warnings from multiple sources.
6. Does the destination have an embassy/ consulate of the country you reside in. Having a fall back option or a safety net in the destination that you visit is extremely important, irrespective of whether a travel warning has been issued or not. Refrain from visiting destinations where a local consulate or embassy for your particular country is not present. Remember, you do not want to get stranded in a country without any embassy to seek help from.

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