A travel warning is not a thing that any country wants to see before its name, nope.
There I was scrolling through Twitter when I saw this tweet about a travel advisory for my beloved Jamaica. For a country that relies heavily on tourism a travel advisory is something of a possible death knell to its reputation. Would be visitors see this and instantly call off their vacation plans. Many people forget all the wonderful elements of such a destination and see only fear and danger. Who can blame them really. My heart dropped when I saw the tweet and broke a little.
I started to wonder what others thought and if it would affect seasoned travellers to Jamaica as much as first time visitors. I decided to share a bit about this because many travellers do not know the difference between a travel alert and a travel warning. They see travel advisory and think that it means only the lawless lies in wait in a country to devour anyone who enters.
Travel Advisory, Travel Alert and Travel Warning: Are they all the same?
My understanding from doing a bit of research indicates that, a travel advisory is information that a government provides its citizens about travelling to another country. This is generally about things they should be aware of in particular countries such as infectious diseases, crime, natural disasters and such. An alert accompanies the advisory to share more on whether or not travel to a particular country is advisable. The term travel warning is used interchangeably with advisory but of course it causes more angst. This site provides information for Americans on the situation in different countries and it also makes it clear how a travel advisory works.
Reading the information provided on the above site gave me some peace of mind. It is actually useful to know this kind of information before travelling to any country. I will be checking on the situation before I travel to different countries because no one wants to go into an unsafe situation.
The advisory for Jamaica offers much information, though it may give a visitor the impression that is is just not a place to visit. As a Jamaican reading this it does make me truly sad. I know that the travel warning/advisory was given in response to the state of emergency declared by the Jamaican government in early January. Ironically, this was done to address the terrible crime situation to make it safer for all.
My friends and family in and around Montego Bay speak of how much it is helping. Someone who wants to visit Jamaica at this time would think the actual opposite based on the travel warnings/advisories by some countries. I am flummoxed as to why this is the case. Should a country not take the steps necessary to curb crime and create a safe environment for its citizens and others?
The next time I hear of a travel warning/advisory for any country I will be digging a bit deeper to see what is really happening.
Travelling to Countries where a Travel Warning/Advisory has been given
This is a highly personal decision. Again, no one should knowingly put themselves at risk. Take some time to read more on the advisory and determine if you would be affected directly. Remember these advisories are given for different reasons. We would not be affected by a natural disaster in one section of a country in the same way we may be affected by high crime levels and vice versa. It is a government’s duty to safeguard its citizens at home and abroad, so a travel warning may just serve the purpose of telling you to be more careful than usual. This website shares different kinds of advisories for different countries.
If you find there is a travel advisory for the country you will be visiting read as much as you can about it before cancelling your trip. Read information in some of the local newspapers from the country, check Twitter and TripAdvisor forums for information from those travelling and living in the country. They advisory may not affect every corner of a country if it is a huge one. Again, we have to do what makes us comfortable and follow our instincts and use wisdom. This traveller is in Syria at the moment in his quest to travel to every country on earth. We all know what we see on the news about what is happening in Syria but he is there travelling. “Different stroke for different folks.”
If a travel advisory is given for a country you are already in, what do you do? This is quiet the pickle? Many countries are good at helping to evacuate their citizens in dire situations. I remember after the big earthquake here in Japan in 2011, where this happened. Know how to contact your local embassy abroad. Also it is advisable to have good travel insurance that will cover you if needed. In addition, it is good to have access to extra money or a credit card for unplanned nights at a hotel, food and so on. There have been instances where things like the volcano that erupted in Iceland some years back caused flight cancellations. We never know, so this is something to think about when planning a trip anywhere.
How Countries May be Affected by Travel Warnings/Advisories
I know many of us travellers don’t think about this and this is fair. I am just sharing some food for thought as a Jamaican who knows what a travel advisory can do to its travel industry.
The peak season in Jamaica comprises of the winter months in Canada, America and Europe for the most part. Most tourists visit Jamaica from these three areas. The tourism industry provides many jobs and sustains many lives. Unfortunately, if there are not many tourists visiting then many people will lose their jobs and this may contribute to an increase in crime for example.
The big hotels can often weather this storm but many small businesses struggle and even go out of business. Other sectors may be affected because investors do not want to do business in countries that are deemed unsafe. Who can blame them. With this in mind, the government of a country that is the subject of a travel warning will address the situation and make this a priority. This benefits the local citizens and is one of the pros. Sadly, issues that give rise to travel advisories are often not easily fixed.
Have you travelled to a country despite a travel warning? Do you live in a country that a travel warning has been given for? How did/do you feel about this?
I pray that my beloved country, Jamaica, is one that all can visit and experience at leisure in safety. Despite this travel advisory, I am happy that the government is trying something to curb the situation for all there and abroad.