USA issues 'exercise increased caution' advisory for its citizens travelling to India


USA passports lie on a table in Dallas on May 9, 2017.

New rankings replace the vague and often confusing system of issuing "travel alerts" and "travel warnings".

According to a World Travel and Tourism Council report, The total contribution of Travel and Tourism to the Greek GDP in 2016 was EUR32.8 billion representing 18.6 percent of GDP in 2016, and had forecasted a rise by 6.9 percent in 2017.Other parts of Europe such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom received third level rankings informing potential travellers to "exercise increased caution". Specific threats will be described with summaries such as C for crime, T for terrorism and U for civil unrest.

Michelle Bernier-Toth, head of Overseas Citizens Services, said the changes were made because so few people understood the distinctions in the previous, broad rankings. Advisories are based on information from intelligence agencies, U.S. embassies and host countries' governments, she said.

Malaysia has been ranked among countries with the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk under the United States' newly-improved travel advisory programme.

The goal of the consular messages is to offer timely advice about destinations and activities overseas. Countries designated level 3 and above will be reviewed every 6 months for safety assessments, and further reviews will be carried out based on current events.

In September, the agency stated in a travel warning that, "numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees have been targeted in specific attacks", suffering "significant injuries as a outcome of these attacks".

That was a message echoed by Bernier-Toth on Wednesday.

"I think people will find it easier to understand than the old travel warnings", she said. But travelers might need some time to become familiar with the new format.

Meanwhile, several countries which are ranked at Level Four include Afghanistan, Central African Republic (CAR), Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and North Korea.

According to the US State Department's website, American citizens should "reconsider travel to Pakistan due to terrorism". "I personally was exhausted of explaining the difference between a travel warning and a travel alert, even to some of my colleagues", she said.

Travellers are told to "exercise increased caution in Tanzania due to crime, terrorism, and targeting of LGBTI persons".

Cuba, for instance, where the State Department has previously advised against travel, was listed as a Tier 3, rather than Tier 4, country.

It also added that the US government has "limited ability" to provide emergency services to its citizens in rural areas of eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal, where Maoist extremist groups are present, since they require special authorization to visit.

The State Department insists the rankings are based exclusively on security conditions in a country, but is aware of the possibility for pushback from governments that are unhappy with their ranking.

Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, said his destination on the Pacific Coast had 16% growth in visitors during 2017 and has been growing since 2010, after recovering from a hurricane. "Los Cabos is the fastest growing destination in Mexico and we are committed to continue being a safe and secure destination for national and worldwide visitors". The U.S. Department has placed Pakistan under level 3 category.

"We can not prevent people from traveling to a country", she said. "We have significantly reduced our staffing at our embassy in Havana".