World Travel Watch: Penalties for Touts in Delhi, Tourist Tax in Lisbon and More

World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

10.06.10 | 2:36 PM 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.

Cambodia: Crime May Increase During Khmer Holidays

The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh issued a notice to remind travelers that several holidays on the Khmer calendar fall in October and November and street crime increases during this time. Vehicle accidents also increase and unruly behavior spikes because celebrants tend to drink too much. If you become the victim of an assault or robbery, the Embassy urges you not to resist because thieves are often armed.

Europe: U.S. State Department Travel Alert to Raise Awareness, Not Fear

The U.S. State Department’s travel alert about terrorist threats in Europe should serve to raise travelers’ awareness about potential problems rather than suggest they abandon plans to visit. As the alert says, European governments have taken steps to prevent attacks and spoken publicly about the heightened threats. Travelers need to know that targets could be public transportation systems or other tourist infrastructure, but also remember that such threats are not new, only heightened because of current information obtained by security agencies.

India: Touts Face New Penalties in Delhi; Goa’s Tourist Season Draws Hawkers; Ayodhya Court Decision Greeted with Calm

A new law put in place in New Delhi Oct. 1 is designed to protect tourists from a scourge as old as India itself: touts. The Delhi Prevention of Touting and Malpractices against Tourists ordinance imposes a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine of 10,000 rupees ($226). Anyone caught cheating a tourist could suffer these penalties. In other news, Goa’s tourist season is beginning and with it has come the usual band of beggars, masseurs, ear cleaners, fruit vendors and hawkers of all sorts who live off the tourist trade. Tourism industry officials have repeatedly asked the state government to control what it calls illegal hawkers but each year their numbers increase. In still other news, the nervously awaited court decision on the Ayodhya mosque and Hindu temple dispute that sparked horrific violence in 1992 was released Sept. 30 with the decision to divide the land between the communities. The feared unrest never happened. The decision has not satisfied everyone, and an appeal is forthcoming, but all is calm.

Peru: Another Tourist Plane Crashes in Nazca

A tourist aircraft crashed in Nazca on a flight to view the Nazca Lines, killing all six aboard: four British tourists and the Peruvian pilot and co-pilot. The crash was the latest in a series of disasters with the popular flight tours. In February, six South American tourists and their pilot died in a crash, and five French tourists died in a similar incident in April 2008. With each crash, allegations are repeated that the aging planes that fly the tourists receive inadequate maintenance, but the tours continue because the Nazca Lines are famous and can only be truly appreciated from the air, and the local tour companies need the business. The government intervened after the February crash to place stricter safety regulations on the air services, but more may need to be done.

Portugal: Potential Lisbon Tourist Tax Won’t Break the Bank

A modest proposal from Lisbon’s mayor could raise $18 million annually to promote the city’s tourism and cost visitors an amount they would never notice, but it is being fought by hoteliers. The plan calls for a tariff of 1 euro ($1.38) on arrival for all foreign tourists and an additional hotel tax of up to 1.90 euros ($2.63) per night for visitors to the capital. Considering that Lisbon is recognized as one of Europe’s most affordable cities, the extra fees seem hardly worth the worry, but Barcelona, Spain abandoned a similar plan this year after encountering fierce opposition from the hotel industry. The plan could be in place by the end of the year.

1 Comment for World Travel Watch: Penalties for Touts in Delhi, Tourist Tax in Lisbon and More

John M. Edwards 10.06.10 | 11:30 PM ET

Hi Larry:

I agree that a terrorism alert in Europe is more a state of mind than an actuality. In most cases, American tourists are safer in Continental Europe than they are in the United States, where street crime rages out of control and there are less societal constraints.The French respond quickly to public protests, with robust lads in riot gear, not camera crews from CNN or Fox.

During the first Gulf War, I felt far safer in Paris, for example, than I did in New York. Many of my friends didn’t visit, though, because of a terrorism alert which largely escaped my notice. In the so-called Arab district, Barbes Rochechouart, I even ate at the sere Restaurant Islam, which featured dry desert fare and absolutely no alcohol!

I say you should go anywhere you want in Europe and ignore the travel advisories which are filtered through the American worldview of preparedness, sometimes creating a climate of fear. Europeans are laregely laissez-faire about real or imagined acts of terrorism.

John M. Edwards

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