World Travel Watch: Violence Returns to Medellin, G20 Restrictions in Toronto and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
06.16.10 | 11:32 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.
Canada: G20 Summit Will Bring Congestion to Toronto
The G20 Summit will take place in Toronto June 26-27 and tightened security will make moving around downtown difficult. Street closures will be enforced in the core area around Metro Convention Center on Front Street and police will have the authority to close roads and highways with 15 minutes’ notice. Travel to and from the airport may take considerably longer than usual because police will close highways for motorcades transporting summit attendees. Trains will stop short of Union Station between June 24 and 27 to avoid expected congestion. The irony for many Torontonians is that instead of showcasing the city as promised, the summit may actually close down many of its attractions. Meanwhile, many residents are planning to leave town to avoid the hassles.
Colombia: Medellín Drug Violence Returning
Medellin may be reverting to its old, violent ways. The city once known for drug king Pablo Escobar and narcotics violence went through a renaissance and became one of Colombia’s most popular and cultured cities, often referred to as the Miracle of Medellin. But now drug gangs are fighting a turf war in Comuna 13, a neighborhood in the hills that surround the city. Some 500 murders have been reported in the past three months, many of the victims youths who had been recruited by gangs. Medellin’s thriving arts scene and fine restaurants remain, but the violence has added tension to the atmosphere.
Ecuador: Crime Rate High Around Country; Tungurahua Volcano Settles Down
The U.S. Embassy in Quito issued a notice June 14 to remind travelers that the crime rate in Ecuador is very high and crime is often violent. Such crime is not restricted to Quito or Guayaquil, but also occurs in smaller cities such as Otavalo, Manta, and Cuenca where thieves and small gangs are sometimes armed with guns or knives. The low rate of arrest and conviction contributes to the high crime rate. The government has increased police patrols in tourist areas, but additional officers cannot assure the elimination of all street crime. In other news, the Tungurahua volcano near Quito quieted down dramatically after appearing to be on the verge of a major eruption. Scientists now believe the possibility of a large eruption has declined significantly.
Greece: Tourism Workers to Strike
After a series of strikes by various unions over the past several weeks, including riots in Athens that depressed tourist numbers, now the country’s major union representing tourism workers plans to strike for four hours June 16 and 24 hours June 30. Union members include hotel and restaurant workers so the likelihood of major disruption from these strikes alone is small. In other news, hospitals throughout the country are running short of supplies because the government owes suppliers 5.2 billion euros. Until a payment plan is in place, suppliers may provide only basic items to hospitals.
Togo: Robberies on Lomé Beaches and in Traffic Jams
The U.S. Embassy in Lomé issued a notice that it has received reports of armed robberies on the city’s beaches during both the day and night, and continues to advise using only private beaches that provide security. Thefts from vehicles stopped in traffic have also increased. Political protest marches are often staged on Saturdays beginning at 8 a.m. and ending in front of the Palm Beach Hotel at 2 p.m. The Embassy advises avoiding these marches because they can be emotionally charged and unpredictable.