World Travel Watch: No Alcohol in Brunei, Air Strikes in Europe and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
03.24.10 | 11:10 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.
Brunei: Tourist Alcohol Zone Is a No-Go
The public sale or consumption of alcohol is banned in this small sultanate on the north coast of Borneo, but plans were in place to create an alcohol zone for tourists so non-Muslim foreign visitors would be able to drink freely there. Those plans were dashed when Brunei’s religious affairs minister said no, fearing that an alcohol zone would lead down a slippery slope to other, perhaps unsavory, requests. Currently, non-Muslim foreign tourists are allowed to bring in for private consumption two bottles of wine or spirits and 12 cans of beer. Discreet alcohol consumption is also permitted in hotels and some restaurants, but it is forbidden for Muslims.
Europe: Airline Strikes to Disrupt Travel, Again
Airline strikes are likely to disrupt travel again in late March and April, with British Airways cabin crews striking for a second time in as many weeks March 27-30, TAP Portugal pilots walking out March 26-31, and Lufthansa pilots refusing to work April 13-16. All three strikes will cause havoc on their airlines’ respective routes but they could also all be canceled if agreements are reached.
Guatemala: Bus Drivers Strike, Demand Better Security, Subsidies
A nationwide bus drivers’ strike shut down transit throughout the country and blocked highways into Guatemala City March 22. Security forces removed buses that were blocking the roads but more than 37,000 intercity drivers vowed to continue the strike until the government met their demands for more security and a share in subsidies granted to drivers in Guatemala City. Driving a bus is a notoriously dangerous occupation in Guatemala, where criminal gangs extort protection money from the drivers and enforce their demands violently. In 2009 some 146 drivers and 60 assistants were murdered by these gangs, and 20 have been killed so far this year.
India: Visa Requirements Revised Again, Tiger Attack Shuts Part of National Park
The government plans to withdraw the requirement it imposed in December on multiple-entry visas that forced tourists to remain outside India for two months between trips. The new visa rules will allow three trips to India per multiple-entry visa, after which the traveler will need to apply for another visa. In other news, part of Ranthambore National Park will be closed to tourists until around April 6 because a tiger killed a local man and his donkey on the periphery of the park March 22. Officials want to keep tourists at least six miles away from the area to prevent any tiger-tourist contact.
Thailand: Tough Security Law Extended in Bangkok
Facing another mass rally and ongoing demonstrations, the government extended a tough emergency security law in Bangkok and neighboring Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan through March 30. The Internal Security Act was put in place to maintain order when “Red Shirt” protesters announced their intention to hold massive demonstrations in Bangkok in mid March. Whether the rallies continue past March 30 depends on the protesters’ stamina and determination to bring down the government, a result that most analysts believe is unlikely.