World Travel Watch: Floods in Central Europe, Ongoing Violence in Bangkok and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
05.19.10 | 10:22 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.
Brazil: U.S. Consulate Lifts Warning About Sao Paulo Beaches
The U.S. Consulate in Sao Paulo rescinded its recommendation to avoid the beach neighborhoods of Praia Grande, Santos, Sao Vicente and Guaruja on the southern coast of Sao Paulo state. The consular announcement on May 12 came after officials reviewed the current situation there and determined that the warning was not necessary, but reminded travelers to take common sense precautions. The original announcement of April 23 recommended against travel to these areas until further notice because of gang-related violence that produced 13 murders in a month.
Central Europe: Floods Force Thousands to Evacuate, Disrupt Rail Service
Floods due to heavy rain in central Europe forced thousands of people to evacuate in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Electricity was knocked out in some areas and rail travel was disrupted. In Poland, officials closed the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau and moved museum artifacts and displays to upper floors to protect them from rising waters. More rain was forecast for parts of the region through the end of the week.
Colombia: U.S. Peace Corps to Return to Colombia This Fall
The U.S. Peace Corps will return to Colombia for the first time in almost three decades this year following the signing of an agreement by Colombia’s foreign minister and the Peace Corps’ director May 18. The Peace Corps’ last presence in Colombia was in 1981, and its return this fall was prompted by a 2009 invitation from the Colombian government and an evaluation by Peace Corps officials of the need and security in the country.
India: Tourist Police Forces at Work in Goa, Madurai
Goa continues to work to increase security for tourists on its beaches after several high-profile incidents in recent years. Security patrols were extended to midnight on ten popular beaches in both north and south Goa, and the World Travel and Tourism Council donated a fleet of 22 vehicles equipped with communications devices to a new tourist security force to be staffed by ex-soldiers. The southern city of Madurai also has taken steps to form a tourist police force to aid visitors to the famous temple city. One police kiosk has been put in place and several others are planned, to be staffed by multilingual officers.
Sri Lanka: One Year After Civil War Ends, Tamil Tiger Territory a Tourist Attraction
May 18 was the first anniversary of the end of the almost-three-decade Tamil Tigers’ civil war that killed as many as 100,000 people, but the government postponed indefinitely a military parade and ceremony to mark the occasion. Reminders of the war in the northern Jaffna peninsula, however, have become tourist attractions, with visitors flocking to see a destroyed water tower, a burned out bulldozer, a disheveled cemetery, or the naval museum in the northeastern port city of Trincomalee housing war memorabilia. The government would prefer to move beyond the conflict, so such evidence of the war may not last long. One site was too sensitive to retain: the ancestral home of Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, razed in April because it became a top tourist attraction.
Thailand: Armed Forces Breach Bangkok Red-Shirt Barricades
Thai armed forces mounted an all-day operation May 19 to clear protesters from their encampment in downtown Bangkok, breaching the barricades with armored vehicles. The situation is fluid and may unfold over several days, with violence possible.