The pot calling the kettle…?

Afghanistan, Congo, Syria and Yemen sure, but Spain, Italy and France? Safety is a concern for every traveler and in the modern world it’s a legitimate one. It’s always better to have a warning than not have a warning, but a point comes where one must question the difference between safety warnings and fear mongering. When the one country without a travel advisory is the same country where more people die from gun violence in a year than all terrorism deaths worldwide, that’s particularly true. The United States remains one of the most wonderful places to visit, but its warnings for visiting other countries raise fair questions…

A New Level 2 Travel Advisory

The United States this week issued a new “Level 2” travel advisory for of all places, Spain. Spain now joins Italy, France, Amsterdam, Turks and Caicos and the United Kingdom as destinations where travelers must exercise “increased caution” as active terrorist plots are imminent. France and Spain are the only countries with more annual tourism than the United States, with 86.9 and 81.8 million respective annual visitors.

A By The Numbers Look

Including war zones such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, an estimated 26,000 people died in 2017 from global terrorism. More than 20,000 of those tragedies occurred in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq alone, with a vast majority of the remaining numbers from Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia. An estimated 33,000 people are killed by gun violence in the United States each year, which is more than 5,000 souls greater than all annual global terrorism, yet the United States manages to avoid raised travel alerts while dishing them out to, well, everyone.

Global Tourism Impact

These warnings are important reminders to avoid large crowds and not make oneself into a target, but they also impact travel, which impacts livelihoods. People cancel plans, shift focus and move travel away from areas with perceived threats, which can have a dramatic impact on countries heavily dependent on tourist economies. It’s hard not to perceive these warnings as contentious, in a time when the United States is the only country in the 10 most visited with stagnant tourism growth.ย Every country in the world tourism top 10 has been issued a travel advisory by the United States. Including the horrific Christmas Market shooting in Strasbourg, France yesterday a total of 12 souls have been killed by terrorism in Europe this year.