World Travel Watch: New Warnings for Mexico, Golf in Cuba and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
05.12.10 | 10:50 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.
Burma (Myanmar): Visas on Arrival Now Available
Burma’s military government began issuing visas on arrival May 1 at the international airports in Mandalay and Rangoon (Yangon). The 28-day visa costs $30 and eliminates the need for tourists and businesspeople to obtain visas from Burmese embassies abroad. The government reportedly made the decision to issue visas on arrival in an effort to increase tourism, which, along with economic development, has been hampered by more than two decades of political repression by hard-line military leaders.
Cuba: More Golf Coming to the Island
Fidel loves baseball but clearly he has not been a fan of golf, because Cuba currently has only two golf courses, the other ten eliminated by the revolution in 1959. That is going to change soon, however, because the tourism ministry announced a new policy to allow foreign companies to build new tourism facilities in Cuba, including at least ten golf courses, marinas and other developments. The move is an effort to increase tourism revenue, which accounts for about 20 percent of Cuba’s foreign exchange income. And evidently betting on the eventual lifting of the 48-year-old U.S. embargo, officials have sanctioned the building of a huge marina hoping to lure U.S. sailors.
India: New Delhi’s Metro Provides a Slice of Time Travel
An element of time travel is available in New Delhi as the city’s Metro nears completion in time for the Commonwealth Games in October. The first section opened in 2002 and as new lines have gone into service, Delhi’s residents have taken to it with pride. The time travel comes in when a visitor emerges from the clean, efficient and modern Metro to neighborhoods that reflect the Delhi of past centuries: chaotic, crowded, with sacred cows and sadhus wandering the narrow lanes. Both worlds represent today’s Delhi, and both are embraced by the city’s inhabitants.
Mexico: Updated U.S. State Department Warning Adds Three New Areas
U.S. State Department issued an updated travel warning that added three states to areas it recommends travelers avoid because of drug violence: Tamaulipas, parts of Sinaloa, and Michoacan. Michoacan is the wintering ground of North America’s Monarch butterflies. The warning also cited recent drug violence near the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, a popular tourist area with one of the world’s most famous train routes.
Niger: Kidnapping Threat Prompts U.S. State Department Warning
The U.S. State Department warned against travel to the north of the country because of kidnapping threats against Westerners. A terrorist group linked to al-Qaida abducted a French national April 20 west of Agadez, and heavily armed men tried to kidnap U.S. embassy officials in November 2009 in Tahoua. The U.S. Embassy in Niamey considers the threats to be ongoing and restricts the travel of U.S. government personnel and official visitors north of the capital. Officials urge those who choose to travel to these northern areas to be extremely cautious.