World Travel Watch: Air Travel Woes in Canada, Volcano Tourists in the Philippines and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
12.30.09 | 1:08 PM ET
World Travel Watch is a weekly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel. Conditions can change overnight, so always make your own inquiries before you leave home. The U.S. State Department and embassies or consulates are good places to start.
Canada: Carry-On Bags Restricted for All U.S.-Bound Flights
Canadian officials banned most carry-on luggage for flights to the U.S. in an effort to reduce backlogs at security checkpoints. Since the Christmas Day attempt to explode a smuggled bomb on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, tightened security at Canadian airports has thrown air service into chaos, with dozens of flights canceled or delayed. Security checks in Toronto took as long as three hours to clear because all passengers were given pat-down searches and all carry-ons were inspected by hand. Transport Canada, the government agency that regulates civil aviation, announced Dec. 28 that passengers would be allowed to carry on only a limited list of articles, including medical devices, small purses, cameras, laptop computers, canes, walkers, diaper bags, musical instruments and “life-sustaining items.” Police were called in to assist with security checks at airports in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. Officials expected the measures to remain in place for at least several days, most likely into the new year.
China: Government Lifting Restrictions on Internet Access, Text Messages, Phone Calls
Authorities are easing restrictions on internet access, text messaging and international phone calls in Xinjiang province after isolating the region during and after ethnic unrest in July. The lifting of the communications shutdown began Dec. 28 and will continue gradually, starting first with opening parts of the web sites for the official Xinhua news agency and the People’s Daily newspaper, and moving on to restoring access to other web sites, internet services, text messaging and international long-distance phone services.
El Salvador: Crime Threat “Critical,” U.S. Embassy Says
In a message issued Dec. 23, the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador stated that “the crime threat in El Salvador is critical,” citing ongoing street gang activity and random and organized crime that includes extortion and kidnapping. U.S. citizens have not been singled out, but are subject to the same threat facing everyone in El Salvador. The Embassy encourages all visiting and resident Americans to refrain from “broadcasting” information about family members or travel plans to reduce the risk of becoming targets.
Philippines: Police Cracking Down on Volcano Tourists
Authorities have begun cracking down on tourists venturing into the danger zone around erupting Mayon volcano near Legazpi City on Luzon island. Disaster officials ordered military officers to arrest anyone caught inside the five-mile-radius forbidden zone, where enterprising locals have been said to be renting all-terrain vehicles to tourists so they can get closer to the rumbling mountain. Soldiers manned additional checkpoints and set up roadblocks on side roads to stop tourists from slipping in. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes around the volcano that has been spewing ash and leaking lava for weeks. Volcanologists said the volcano could have an explosive eruption any day.
Russia and Georgia: Agreement to Reopen Border Crossing Marks Political Thaw
These two countries that fought a brief war in August 2008 have agreed to reopen a border crossing that has been closed for three years. The Verkhny Lars crossing is on the only highway between the two countries that does not go through the breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where most of the fighting occurred. The opening is scheduled for March. Direct flights between the two countries may be reinstated soon.