World Travel Watch: Travel Insurance Now Required in Cuba, Maoists Shut Down Kathmandu and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
05.05.10 | 11:14 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.
Cuba: The Country Now Requires Health Insurance for Tourists, But Will Sell Policies for the Price of a Latte a Day
On May 1 Cuba began requiring visitors to carry valid health insurance or buy a Cuban policy on arrival. Because of the U.S.‘s 48-year trade embargo, Cuba does not accept American insurance policies, so Americans have to purchase local coverage. The cost, however, will be a big surprise: roughly $3 a day for up to $7,560 in medical expenses. Because health care in Cuba is so inexpensive, $3 a day might be all the coverage most tourists need.
Japan: Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market to Reopen to Tourists, Limit Numbers
Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market will be reopened to tourists May 10 after periodic closures because of tourists’ misbehavior. The latest closure began April 8 after some 500 visitors disrupted the auction. Officials will restrict the number of visitors to 140 a day, handing out numbered tickets on a first-come, first-served basis when the market opens, with tourists divided into two groups so only 70 can observe the auction at one time.
Mexico: Drug Violence Comes to Cuernavaca
The drug violence that has plagued the U.S.-Mexico border region and Mexico’s coastal areas recently spread into the heart of Mexico, erupting in the usually quiet city of Cuernavaca. Rivals have been fighting for control of a notorious drug cartel following the death of the group’s boss in a marine raid in December, and in mid-April emails supposedly sent by one of the would-be drug lords warned people to stay home at night and avoid driving pickup trucks or SUVs so they would not be mistaken for rival gang members. Many shops closed, patrons avoided bars and restaurants, and the tourism business has fallen sharply.
Nepal: Maoist Strike Shuts Down Kathmandu
Maoists launched an indefinite general strike May 1, trying to force the prime minister to resign and put the Maoists in power. The strike shut down most transport and businesses in Kathmandu, and by the third day supplies were running short because trucks could not bring goods into the city or from wholesalers to shops. Scattered violence occurred as Maoists enforced the strike or residents fought back against Maoist enforcers. Meetings between the government and Maoist party leaders made little headway by May 4 and it is possible the strike could continue for days or weeks. Wider violence is also possible. The government began evacuating stranded tourists May 4.
Thailand: Possible Solution in Bangkok Standoff, Demonstrations in Chiang Mai
A solution to the long-running political crisis that has crippled Bangkok may be in sight as the prime minister offered to hold elections Nov. 14 if the “Red Shirt” protesters disbanded, and protest leaders were considering the offer. But trouble was also brewing in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where supporters of a pro-government group known as “mixed shirts” or “multi-color” began holding nightly demonstrations at Health Park near Chiang Mai University and planned to hold them indefinitely. “Red Shirt” supporters could confront these demonstrations, and if so, violence could ensue as it has in the past.