New warnings from State

The State Department is rolling out a new travel advisory system for every country in the world. The old system, frankly, sucked. Will its replacement be any better?

The New Year will see the US State Department ushering in a new system of travel advisories for Americans contemplating trips abroad.

It’s being described as a “tiered system,” with one of four different threat levels assigned to each country.¬† It’s expected to take effect sometime after the New Year’s holiday. the levels are:

1) Exercise normal precautions
2) Exercise increased caution
3) Reconsider travel

This replaces the old system of short-term “travel alerts” for spontaneous short-term incidents such as disease outbreaks, political unrest or terror attacks, and “travel warnings” for countries with long-running security issues — places like Somalia, Yemen or Afghanistan.

The State Department press briefing in which this new system was announced can be viewed, verbatim, here.

The old system may have been created with the best of intentions, but it earned its fair share of critics, and including IBIT. Too many of its warnings were either too generic in nature or too outdated to be helpful. Its overall impact was to make more than a few Americans shy away from destinations that would have been perfectly fine to visit — or in many cases, too fearful to travel at all.

Indeed, more than a few developing nations have openly questioned whether Washington was deliberately using the old system to discourage any and all tourism to their countries by American tourists — especially when we have a global reputation for being less than adventurous travelers, anyway.

Will the new system give American travelers a clearer, more honest assessment of potential threats abroad, enabling them to make informed travel decisions? With the Trump administration making moves in the Middle East virtually guaranteed — if not calculated — to provoke furious and possibly deadly reactions, we may not have to wait long to find out.