World Travel Watch: Crime in Bali, Burj Dubai and Machu Picchu Re-Open, and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
04.07.10 | 3:03 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.
Brazil: Rio Deluge Washed Out Homes, Closed Airports
The heaviest rain in 30 years hit Rio de Janeiro April 5-6, triggering mudslides and floods that killed 95 people across the state, including 39 in metropolitan Rio. Nine inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours, washing away shacks in the hillside slums, endangering some 10,000 houses and shutting down airports, metro stations, major highways and power to many neighborhoods. Rain was forecast for the rest of the week and Rio may need several days to dry out and clean up once the rains abate.
Dubai: Kissing Couple’s Sentence Upheld, World’s Tallest Building Reopens
A British couple convicted of kissing in public and sentenced to one month in jail saw their sentence upheld by a Dubai court April 4. They have the option to appeal to a higher court within 30 days, but if their appeal is rejected they will be fined about $270 for illegal consumption of alcohol and deported after serving their sentences. In other news, the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, reopened April 3 after being closed for almost two months when an elevator malfunctioned. The celebrated building opened Jan. 4, closed Feb. 7, and now appears to be ready for the future.
Indonesia: Bali Police Chief Urges Foreigners to Watch for Crime
Bali’s police chief advised foreign tourists to remain vigilant against crime, citing statistics showing that the rate of crimes targeting foreigners has increased in recent years. Such statistics are relative, however, as the number of reported crimes against tourists in 2009 was 293, up from 205 the previous year. Police have increased security at popular tourist sites and run a program assisting hotels and villas with security, awarding certificates to those that complete the training program and implement the new standards. The police chief urged visitors to stay at hotels and villas that have earned certificates.
Peru: Machu Picchu and Cuzco Rail Link Reopens
After being closed for more than two months because heavy rains and landslides washed out railway access, the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu and its rail link to Cuzco reopened April 1. The opening could not have come too soon for the tourism industry, which relies heavily on Machu Picchu as a draw. The Cuzco chamber of commerce estimates that more than half of the city’s inhabitants rely on tourism for their livelihoods.
Venezuela: U.S. Embassy Advises Armored Transport to and from Caracas Airport
The U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued an alert about ongoing security concerns on the Caracas-La Guaira highway between Caracas and Maiquetia International Airport. The highway is known to be dangerous, with robberies occurring at any time of day and on any stretch of the road. Bandits typically cause a roadblock with debris or vehicles, then when traffic stops they rob travelers or steal their cars, often at gunpoint. Common places for roadblocks are at the entrances to tunnels the highway passes through. The Embassy encourages travelers to arrive during daylight hours, make advance plans for transportation from the airport to the city, and to consider using a service that uses armored vehicles. The Embassy’s security offices advises Embassy personnel to use armored vehicles in this area, and a list of transportation companies is available in the U.S. Citizen Services area on the Embassy’s web site at venezuela.usembassy.gov.