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International Travel Spotlight

Travel Alerts, Warnings and Geographical Travel Restriction

When planning a trip abroad, the savvy traveler adds an extra layer of security protection by researching their destination and by checking for information critical to understanding the potential threats of the country they will be visiting. In our spotlight, we will examine the differences between travel destination Alerts, Warnings, Restrictions or a Worldwide Caution. This information may prove valuable to your safety and level of enjoyment during your travel as we will be able to distinguish areas where we may be visiting that are experiencing spikes in crime, acts of terrorism, virus outbreaks, government instability or environmental safety hazards.

I am often asked “What is the difference between Alerts and Warnings” and we will review these differences based on the State Department’s guidance.

Alert: Is best defined as a potential threat of limited duration, such as the Department of State Hurricane and Typhoon Season 2017 Travel Alert or perhaps the Government of Kenya, when they expect the potential for demonstrations and violence because of upcoming elections and post these concerns as the Kenya Travel Alert.

Warning: Identifies a long-term danger in a given country, either cautioning against all travel or simply informing people of what risk they will face. An example would be the Venezuela Travel Warning, which warns of social unrest, violent crime and pervasive food and medicine shortages in the country.

Worldwide Caution: The State Department encourages U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance and to increase their security awareness when traveling and to be better prepared for possible emergencies. Usually based on a continuing threat of terrorist actions, political violence, and criminal activity against U.S. citizens and interests abroad.

Geographical Travel Restriction: Identifies and restricts travel by invaliding passports to certain countries. This type of restriction was more common during the Cold War era, when it was used to prevent travel by U.S. citizens to communist countries. More recently, State Department ordered travel bans have been replaced by other means including the Treasury Department’s restriction on tourism related transactions in foreign countries, such as restrictions with Cuba. The Secretary of State published a Notice on Wednesday, August 2, 2017, that will restrict the use of U.S. passports to travel into, in, or through North Korea/the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), effective Friday, September 1, 2017. This will change the Warning for North Korea to a Geographical Travel Restriction, due to increasing concerns over the serious risk of arrest and detention.

The State Department has issued over 20 Alerts and Warnings during the past three high travel months of May, June, July- 2017. The State Department considers many different data points when placing or removing a country from the list. In addition, if your destination is listed with a travel Alert or Warning it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t go, it indicates additional risk mitigation strategies need to be in place in order to add a layer of security.

Gathering all relevant information is part of being a prepared and knowledgeable traveler, which in turn will lead to higher level of safety. Travelers should also be aware that the State Department will send messages to the traveler about any security issues developing in the country while they are traveling providing they have signed up with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

When researching a plan the “Five C’s” and the “Travel Checklist” are suggested reading. Remember when a disaster strikes, you have to be prepared to act fast, preparation could end up saving your life. Have a plan in place and a backup plan or two handy. Listening to local news will help keep travelers informed. Having an individual safety assessment (ITAP) can thoroughly prepare the traveler with the information and risk mitigation strategies if ever confronted with an emergency, such as civil disorder, terrorism or a health problem. With changing world events, we must all ensure that our travel safety is a priority and Global Secure Resources Inc. is ready to assist by providing the critical information required to keeps travelers safe, informed and prepared. It is ultimately up to the traveler to stay safe and secure. The more you know, the safer your travel.

Carrie Pasquarello of Global Secure Resources Inc. an International Corporation dedicated to risk mitigation and threat assessment planning. She has spent more than a decade in a Diplomatic capacity working and living abroad in Europe and Asia. Served with the US Department of State. Trained victim advocate in trauma, recovery and crisis counseling.

Follow me on Twitter Carrie Pasquarello @glosecresources

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