World Travel Watch: Major Earthquake in Haiti, Road Blocks in Greece and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
01.13.10 | 12:25 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.
Haiti: 7.0 Earthquake Causes Widespread Destruction; Thousands Feared Dead
A major earthquake struck Haiti’s capital yesterday. Buildings were leveled. Thousands are feared dead. Officials are warning of a humanitarian crisis. The situation is still unfolding. The U.S. Department of State urges Americans to avoid travel to Haiti.
Australia: Uluru to Remain Open to Climbers
The Australian government decided not to ban climbing Uluru, or Ayers Rock, as had been recommended last year by the board of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. A new management plan left open the possibility of closing the rock in the future if certain conditions arose, including developing other attractions for visitors in the area or if the percentage of visitors who climb it drops to 20 percent from the current 38 percent. The ban was proposed out of respect for the aboriginal owners of the land, for whom Uluru is sacred, but the government ruled that the rock’s tourist appeal should take precedence.
China: Acid Hurler Hits Hong Kong’s Kowloon Again
Some 30 people, including children, suffered burns when an attacker threw two bottles of acid into the popular Temple Street night market in Kowloon, Hong Kong Jan. 9. The incident follows a pattern of attacks over the past 13 months that have injured at least 100 people. The acid attacks have usually taken place in crowded marketplaces popular with tourists, and in this case police arrested a suspect but later absolved him of the crime. They have no leads or knowledge of a motive for the attacks.
Egypt/Gaza: Demonstrations at Rafah Border Crossing Prompt U.S. Embassy Warning
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo urged U.S. citizens not to travel to the northern Sinai region and to avoid areas with a heavy police presence or large public gatherings. An anti-Egypt demonstration turned violent Jan. 6 on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza when angry Palestinians rushed the border fence and clashed with Egyptian security forces. Other demonstrations occurred in Al-Arish, the capital of Egypt’s North Sinai province. The demonstrators were protesting Egypt’s blocking of smuggler tunnels and refusal to allow aid missions into Gaza.
Greece: Farmers to Block Roads, Border Crossings
Farmers around the country plan to block roads beginning Jan. 20 to protest low produce prices and higher production costs. Last year at this time they paralyzed commerce and disrupted travel when they closed major highways and several border crossings. This year they again hope to raise awareness of their difficulties and obtain more subsidies to keep their businesses going. Olive farmers from Halkidiki have already made a statement, driving their tractors into Thessaloniki to deliver a formal request for a meeting with government ministers.
Ireland: Public Workers Plan Strikes Over Pay Cuts
Unions representing government workers are gearing up for possible national strikes to protest their second pay cut in less than a year. Public servants could walk out across all sectors, including hospitals and public offices. Such strikes generally do not affect tourism, but hospital services could be severely disrupted and protests and demonstrations are possible. The industrial action is occurring as the government tries to resuscitate the country’s ailing economy.