Is it safe? That's the most frequent question put to travel
advisers as they are asked to plan an international trip. Is it safe
to travel to Israel or Jordan, to Turkey or India? Is it safe to
travel to Mexico, to Nicaragua or Bali? And the answer can sometimes
change in a day, as terrorists or drug lords create havoc in a
particular part of the world. So the response to that question must
often be guarded, and preceded by the words, "For the time being..."
it's safe to travel to [the place in question].
With that condition clearly understood, my own responses to the
question are the following;
Is it safe to travel to Eilat in Israel? The seaside resort at
the bottom tip of the Negev Desert on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea
is a popular vacation choice for a great many visitors to Israel (and
more so by the Israelis themselves), but has occasionally been the
target of a missile or an attack by gunmen. But the Israeli government
has been so recently protective of the beach-lined, hot-climate Eilat,
building a wall against incursions from neighboring Egypt and an "iron
dome" battery of anti-missile defenses, that almost all observers will
agree that Eilat is now acceptably safe. One must not confuse Eilat
with the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh much further to the
south, at the bottom tip of the Sinai Peninsula, which--because of
unsettled conditions in Egypt--is undoubtedly not safe for the present.
Is it safe to travel to Turkey? The recent street demonstrations
against the government of Premier Erdogan have now subsided, and were
never directed against tourists (they were also mainly free of
violence). Conditions in Turkey are currently calm, and a heavy stream
of incoming tourism continues, aided by the recent sudden drop in the
value of the Turkish currency, the Lira. You now receive a full two
lira for one U.S. dollar, as opposed to a rate of 1.75 lira just
shortly ago, and Turkey has become far less expensive for the American
tourist (it was always inexpensive to begin with and has now become
ever more so).
Is it safe to travel to India? Tourism to that exotic, colorful,
continent-sized country was badly hurt by a succession of rapes against
women, and a great many observers are now cautioning women--especially
unaccompanied women--against travel there. Nevertheless, others are
claiming that travel by women in the chief tourist centers--New Delhi,
Agra, Jaipur, Mumbai--is acceptably safe, and women staying close to
popular tourist routes may be reasonably safe for those exercising
great caution in their travels from place to place. Apart from that
undeniable problem, tourism to India has never been more favorable for
Americans because of the remarkable recent drop in the value of the
Indian Rupee, now selling at an astonishing rate of 68 to the dollar
(it sold in the 40s just three-or-so years ago);. Airfares to India
are also at their lowest recent level, and one can occasionally fly
round-trip there from the United States for as little as $1,200.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico? For some years now, Americans
have been warned about the dangers in northernmost Mexico, along the
border between Mexico and the United States (mainly Arizona and Texas).
Tourists no longer feel sale in those
border cities or areas and concern is also felt in and around Acapulco.
But the single most heavily-visited of the Mexican tourist
areas--Cancun and the Maya Riviera--are felt to be safe for tourism and
continue to be visited by immense numbers of tourists. The same with
popular Puerto Vallarta.
Is it safe to travel to Central and South America? It is
currently felt to be sale to travel to the popular areas of our
southern neighbors, including Guatemala and Nicaragua. Even in
formerly-troubled Colombia, tourists are now returning to Bogota, and
are continuing to travel to peaceful Cartagena. Argentina has always
been considered safe, and though pickpockets may trouble the visitor in
some part of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, tourists confining their stays
to the heavily-visited areas of that city--Copacabana and Ipanema
Beaches--are felt to be safe.
Where is it considered definitely unsafe to visit? Among many
areas of the world, obviously Egypt, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan,
Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, among others, are places to which you
will not want to go. But obviously, you will not want to make any
decision relating to safety based on my advice, but only on the more
authoritative warnings of our State Department (www.travel.state.gove)
or the British Foreign Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice).