What is a Travel Warning?
Just how realistic are government travel alerts and warnings?
And are they even worth looking at?
Alerts and warnings are issued to provide an official source of trustworthy information. If an area were to be engaged in violent protests or war and a warning were not issued, that government would be subjected to serious criticism.
The U.S. Department of State currently has 35 countries listed under a travel warning — defined as a “protracted condition that makes a country dangerous or unstable,” such as war.
A travel alert applies to temporary situations such as demonstrations.
Three-quarters of Brits admitted they do not check official travel advice before traveling in a recent poll, and those that do said they often ignore it anyway.
Despite a U.S. government travel warning, 20 million Americans traveled to Mexico in 2011.
Countries currently listed by the U.S. Department of State with travel warnings include Egypt, Haiti, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, North Korea, the Philippines and Tunisia.
A warning status means travelers should “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.”
“Our obligation is to provide information to the American citizens who are traveling and residing abroad to allow them to make informed decisions,” says Michelle Bernier, managing director of overseas citizen services for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
“We want Americans to be vigilant and take security measures especially in an atmosphere of heightened concern.”
The State Department website provides specific information on every country in the world.