World Travel Watch: Commonwealth Games Concerns in India, Elections in Cuzco and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
09.22.10 | 12:46 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.
Bhutan: Restrictions on Tourist Numbers Easing
The Himalayan kingdom plans to more than triple the number of foreign tourists it allows to visit by 2012, permitting up to 100,000 visitors compared to the current limit of 30,000. Bhutan only began opening up to tourists in the 1970s and strictly limits tourist numbers to minimize erosion of its culture and traditions. The new campaign represents an effort to gain more foreign currency while still limiting the tourist impact on the country. While the restrictions apply to most nationalities, there is no limit on the number of tourists from neighboring India.
France: Security Increased Around Country
In the wake of a bomb scare at the Eiffel Tower that prompted the evacuation of 2,000 people Sept. 14, authorities have increased visible patrols around national landmarks. French and North African intelligence sources alerted officials to a possible threat to the transport system by a female suicide bomber, and authorities raised the security threat level in response.
India: Commonwealth Games Threatened by Construction Delays, Security Issues
With the Commonwealth Games set for Oct. 3-13 in New Delhi, concerns are growing that the venue will not be ready and the events will be affected, possibly canceled. Many buildings remain unfinished and a footbridge built to connect the main stadium to a parking lot collapsed Sept. 21, injuring 23 workers, five of them seriously. Security is also a concern, and the attack on a tourist bus near the Jama Masjid in the historic core of Old Delhi Sept. 19 did not increase confidence. Two Taiwanese tourists were injured when a passenger on a motorcycle opened fire with a machine gun first on the mosque and then on the tourist minibus.
Kuwait: Public Gatherings Banned to Prevent Sectarian Strife
Authorities banned all public gatherings in an effort to head off sectarian strife between its majority Sunni Muslims and minority Shiites as tensions flared over an exiled Kuwaiti Shiite’s comments allegedly disparaging the Prophet Mohammed’s wife, Aisha. Violators of the ban could face two years in prison. Several Sunni groups had planned demonstrations to demand extradition of the Shiite activist from the U.K., prompting authorities to take action. Sunnis compose about two-thirds of Kuwait’s population, with Shiites numbering about one-third.
Peru: Cuzco Elections Could Prompt Travel Disruptions
The U.S. Embassy in Lima alerted travelers to municipal elections in Cuzco scheduled for Oct. 3 that could produce strikes and political demonstrations that may disrupt travel in the area. Trade unions, students and others began a 48-hour strike Sept. 21 that shut down the popular tourist train between Cuzco and Machu Picchu, and demonstrations in the run up to the elections are possible. Apart from the usual advice to avoid demonstrations because they can turn violent, it is illegal for foreigners to participate in demonstrations in Peru, and U.S. citizens in the past who have been involved in protests have been detained and deported.