World Travel Watch: Robberies in the Bahamas, Kidnapping in Ecuador and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
11.25.09 | 10:48 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.
Bahamas: Cruise Ship Passengers on Segway Tour Robbed in Nassau
Two tour groups on shore excursions from separate cruise ships were robbed in Nassau by two gunmen armed with shotguns Nov. 20. The groups were on a Segway tour of a forest preserve called Earth Village near the port when the robbers tied up the Bahamian tour guide of the first group, ordered everyone down, then robbed them of their cash and valuables. When the second group arrived, the gunmen robbed them as well. Authorities were outraged and vowed to use all police resources to apprehend the culprits. Tourism is the lifeblood of the Bahamian economy and officials know the damage such incidents can do. Police vowed to set up an extensive security system in the forest preserve to prevent further incidents.
Brazil: Blackout Hits Rio, Again
Two weeks to the day after a massive blackout left 60 million people without power, a similar outage hit Rio de Janeiro’s main tourist areas of Copacabana, Ipanema and Lagoa Nov. 24, raising further concerns about the city’s ability to host the 2016 Olympics. The blackout two weeks earlier was caused by short circuits in a power substation that shut down three main transmission lines, while the more recent and smaller blackout occurred when the utility company shut down power to fix an underground cable. The power was out most of the day, long enough for food to spoil in restaurants and to drive people into the streets to escape the stifling summer indoor heat. Rio’s Olympics organizers have vowed to create a “power island” around Rio immune from blackouts, but doing so will take time and large investments.
Ecuador: Kidnapping Threat, Blackouts, Crime in Quito
The U.S. Embassy in Quito urged Americans visiting or resident in Ecuador to be vigilant about their personal security following the kidnapping for ransom of an American traveling in the northern province of Carchi near the Colombian border. The 24-year-old was abducted in the city of Tulcan Oct. 17 but was rescued 21 days later. Police made one arrest in the case. Ecuador has also been experiencing frequent power outages, which create opportunities for criminals, so travelers and residents should be prepared with flashlights and candles. The Embassy also reported that several recent robberies occurred in Quito’s Monteserrin neighborhood, where visitors should be especially aware of their surroundings.
Nepal: Solo Trekkers Robbed Near Pokhara, Nationwide Strike Coming in December
Reports of solo trekkers being robbed on trails around Pokhara in western Nepal prompted trekking companies to meet with security officials to discourage hikers from trekking alone. In some incidents the tourists reportedly were robbed by their guides, suggesting that care must be taken to ensure that the guide is legitimate. Trekking with a friend or a group is always safer. In other news, the Nepali parliament, out of session for nearly five months because the Maoist party blockaded the building, convened Nov. 23 when Maoists agreed to lift their siege for three days to allow the government to pass a budget to avoid a financial crisis. The Maoists also announced a new round of protests that would culminate in a three-day nationwide strike beginning Dec. 20.
Philippines: State of Emergency in Mindanao Provinces, Cotabato City
The government declared a state of emergency in the Mindanao provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, and Cotabato City following the gruesome massacre of at least 46 people, including 13 local journalists, in political violence that was extreme even for this country where political violence is common. A convoy on its way to register a candidate for provincial governor was stopped by some 100 armed men and forced away from the main road, then the victims were shot at close range. The emergency will include road checkpoints and a heavy military presence. National elections are planned for May, with the campaign just underway. In the last national elections in 2007, more than 100 people were killed.