USA travel warnings clarified

The State Department has a new travel advisory system for ranking countries’ safety levels

Under the new designations Turkey is considered a ‘Level 3’ country. Viacheslav Lopatin Shutterstock

Countries are now labeled No. 1 for taking normal precautions, No. 2 for using increased caution, No. 3 urging travelers to reconsider a trip and No. 4 for recommending against travel at that time.

India has been placed at Level 2, which pertains to "exercising increased caution".

Level Four is for countries with a "greater likelihood of life-threatening risks" in which the USA government may be very limited in its ability to help.

But each warning is accompanied by a country page on the travel.state.gov website, explaining what specific threats have been identified and why the advice has been given.

The advisory has been issued by the United States State Department, which asked the citizens to avoid going to Jammu and Kashmir except for the Buddhist-dominated region of Ladakh.

WASHINGTON-The State Department has ranked Armenia among the safest countries for travel.

Mexico, a level two country, has complained in the past that U.S. alerts hurt tourism, but the site gives a detailed breakdown of areas to avoid because of drug cartel violence.

The new rankings replace the vague and often confusing system of issuing "travel alerts" for short-term dangers posed by events like health epidemics or mass protests, and "travel warnings" for long-standing concerns like armed conflict or political instability.

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As well as Slovakia, Australia, Canada, Austria and the Czech Republic are in this group. Advisories are based on information from intelligence agencies, U.S. embassies and host countries' governments, she said.

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

Americans travelling overseas will no longer have to muddle through lists of warnings, alerts and advice from the US State Department on their chosen destination. She noted that even some of her colleagues had difficulty understanding the difference between "travel alerts" and "travel warnings" under the previous system.

"Terrorists have targeted U.S. diplomats and diplomatic facilities in the past, and evidence suggests they continue to do so", says the State Department.

According to Bernier-Toth, the improvement was the first major step in many years and added that the information on the safety state of each nation were by "various parties".

Countries ranked at Level Three include Cuba, Dominica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Lebanon, Sudan, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Russia and Venezuela.

"We have been heavily investing in security", Esponda said.

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