World Travel Watch: Second Bomb Threat at the Eiffel Tower, Rabies in Bali and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
09.29.10 | 11:38 AM 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.
China: Beijing Traffic Jams Will Get Worse
Beijing traffic jams became notorious in August when a 60-mile tie-up lasted 10 days and reached the outskirts of the city, and traffic within Beijing has grown increasingly congested as the Chinese economy has hummed along. Now Beijing ranks along with Mexico City as having the world’s worst commute, and the situation isn’t likely to improve as the city is on a pace to add 600,000 vehicles to the road this year, a number equal to all of the vehicles currently on the streets of Hong Kong. Traffic in and around Beijing promises to be especially congested during the National Day holidays Oct. 1-7 as residents move around the city for celebrations or try to leave town.
Ecuador: Express Kidnappings Increase in Quito
The U.S. Embassy in Quito reported an increase in express kidnappings in the capital where victims are abducted and forced to empty their bank accounts at ATMs or in local banks. Most such kidnappings have previously occurred in Guayaquil, but they are on the rise in Quito, especially at night in the Mariscal District, a popular tourist area. These crimes have usually involved illegitimate taxis and the perpetrators have been using pepper spray to incapacitate their victims. The Embassy recommends avoiding hailing taxis on the street and urges travelers to confirm that the taxi is legitimate by making sure it has an orange license plate and an orange placard on the driver’s-side door and windshield with a registration number.
France: Eiffel Tower Evacuated Again after Bomb Threat
For the second time in two weeks the Eiffel Tower was evacuated Sept. 28 after authorities received a phoned-in bomb threat. Tourists were allowed back in two hours later after officials found nothing suspicious. The threats came against the backdrop of reports of a “credible terror plot” targeting Europe, in particular France and Britain, that intelligence officials in both countries as well as the CIA believe is being hatched by Islamic extremists.
Greece: Truckers Vote to Continue Strikes
After more than two weeks of strike actions, protests and pleas from businesses to end their blockades and move goods around the country, truckers still refused to remove their vehicles blocking major highways on the outskirts of Athens and Thessaloniki. There was speculation that the truckers would suspend their protests for a week to allow deliveries to resume, to empty ports of backlogged cargo and restock stores and supermarkets, but truckers’ unions voted overwhelmingly Sept. 28 to continue their strike. There is no end in sight to the disruption and basic goods are now in short supply, especially in the islands.
Indonesia: Bali Dogs to Get Rabies Vaccine
An outbreak of rabies has killed 93 people on the island of Bali since 2008, so authorities launched a campaign to vaccinate 400,000 dogs against the disease. Previously the government had been culling stray dogs to control the disease, but now under the auspices of the World Society for the Protection of Animals they are taking a more humane approach. The Australian government donated 370,000 doses of rabies vaccine, perhaps in part because Bali is one of the most popular destinations for Australian tourists.