Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

US revamps travel warning system, ranks countries

US revamps travel warning system, ranks countries

The US State Department announced on Wednesday that it is scrapping its travel warnings for specific countries, instead launching a four-level "travel advisory programme".

India has received a rank or Level 2, indicating "exercise increased caution" while Pakistan has been ranked at Level 3, indicating "reconsider travel".

The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory on January 10 putting India at Level 2 i.e. exercise increased caution.

Excluding Indonesia and the Philippines, all of the other Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, were listed in Level 1 - the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk.

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.

The No. 4 countries with do-not-travel warnings include Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. "People often didn't understand the difference between a travel alert and a travel warning".

Some countries have complained in the past that warnings exaggerate dangers and damage tourism, or suspect they have been subjected to a United States diplomatic rebuke. It said that the USA government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in rural areas from eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal as US government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to these areas.

The Department of State does not recommend travelling to Level 4 category countries. The U.S. Department has placed Pakistan under level 3 category. "How we assess the threat level in a country hasn't changed". Countries with a level 1 ranking (Canada, Sweden, Mongolia) are not color-coded.

The department changed the previous phrasing from the previous warnings and alerts, which some travelers found confusing, to a colored-number system of advisories with more explicit descriptions of what yielded the ranking. "We needed to make it more accessible to people, to make sure the information was more easily understood using plain language".

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

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

"So it's going to be very obvious", Bernier-Toth said.

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