American travelers – at least those of the cautious variety – may be familiar with the travel recommendations of the US State Department.
The agency monitors the world for potential trouble and issues warnings from “Level 1: Take Normal Precautions” to “Level 4: Do Not Travel,” alerting future visitors to threats of terrorism, war, arbitrary enforcement of local laws, high crime rates and security concerns other personalities.
But have you ever wondered how governments of other countries warn their citizens against coming to the United States? What kind of reputation does America have?
After all, the rate of gun-related deaths in the United States is rising. And mass shootings in America — 610 as of Nov. 25, according to the Gun Violence Archive — have become commonplace and make headlines around the world.
CNN Travel looked at what the neighboring governments and closest allies of the United States have to tell their citizens about their arrival here. It’s not exactly a flattering picture.
Future visitors are completely unwarned as if America were an active war zone. Each nation has its own approach, but a general theme boils down to this: the United States is more violent than you’re used to. Learn to take precautions there that you might not need to take at home.
The second section: violent crime hardly ever involves tourists.
Here’s more about what nine countries – which account for a significant portion of US international tourism traffic – have to say:
In 1996, 35 people were killed in a mass shooting in Port Arthur on the island of Tasmania. In the wake of the massacre, Australia passed stricter gun control laws that included “a ban on virtually all fully automatic or semi-automatic firearms,” according to the online Encyclopedia Britannica.
So for more than 25 years, Australians have lived in a very different gun culture than Americans.
The Australian government warns its citizens planning to visit the US that “violent crime is more common than in Australia and gun crime is possible in all regions. Follow local guidelines and guidelines. If you live in the US, learn active shooter drills.”
On its SmartTraveller website, the Australian government also reminds prospective travelers that “it is legal for US citizens to openly carry a firearm in public.”
He goes on to say that “the US has a higher level of violent crime than Australia, but in rare cases tourists are involved”. He does not provide notification of specific incidents “unless there is a significant risk to Australians”.
Still, it doesn’t warn its citizens against travel to the U.S. As of Nov. 25, it recommended “exercising normal precautions in the United States of America.”
Canada advises its citizens to “take normal safety precautions” when visiting the United States.
The Canadian government is warning its citizens against crossing the US-Mexico border by car, citing “criminal incidents related to drug trafficking.” It is telling its citizens to avoid driving at night on the border.
It also warns of gang-related violence and organized crime in large urban areas, noting that violent crime “rarely affects tourists”, but cautions travelers to be aware of their surroundings and not resist if threatened by robbers.
The government also reminds Canadians of the frequent mass shootings in the United States. “Cases of mass shootings occur, which often result in casualties. Although tourists are rarely involved, there is a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The United Kingdom reminds future visitors to America that “mass shootings can happen, but they make up a very small percentage of homicide deaths.”
He also tells its citizens that “violent crime, including gun crime, rarely involves tourists, but be careful when traveling in unfamiliar areas. Avoid walking in less traveled areas alone, especially at night.”
Like Canada, Britain is warning about the US-Mexico border.
In the advice column, Britain warns its citizens against inappropriate humor: “Don’t make casual comments about bombs or terrorism, especially when passing through US airports.”
Lauren Redfern, a 31-year-old London resident who is completing a doctorate in medical anthropology, made extensive trips to the United States in 2018 (Chicago to New Orleans) and 2022 (Los Angeles).
She told CNN Travel last summer that she was aware of gun violence in the US when she began her trip in 2018, but she felt distant from it. “At the time, I certainly wouldn’t have considered doing anything different” than she would have done in Britain.
But while staying at an Airbnb in New Orleans, she was doing laundry in a common area when someone opened a door and jammed the barrel of a shotgun.
No shots were fired, but “it was this strange, out-of-body experience where it really made me think and appreciate and realize ‘Oh, this is very real’ on a level I’ve never experienced and never will in Britain.”
“This experience definitely changed my sense of personal safety while traveling in the US,” said Redfern.
That didn’t deter her from taking another trip to the US, but “it changed the way I thought about American culture.” She is now much less likely to go out alone when she visits the US than in London, where she has no worries about doing so.
Israel is a very security country with special ties with the United States.
It publishes warnings on a scale of 01 to 04, the latter being the highest level of risk. Israel’s travel warnings focus on terrorism directed specifically at its citizens abroad as opposed to more general crime concerns.
For example, people are warned from the North African country of Algeria, which has a rating of 04 because of terrorist groups and “hostility to Israel on Algerian Street”.
However, the United States is rated 01 (“ordinary precautions”) despite an increase in anti-Semitic incidents.
The French Foreign Ministry has a different opinion.
It says in general “the United States of America is among the safest countries”, but it warns French citizens against some urban areas and notes an increase in carjacking.
Interestingly, the ministry breaks down potential threats into very specific neighborhoods. A few examples:
• In Boston “it is recommended to avoid traveling alone, on foot and at night, in certain parts of Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury”.
• In Atlanta, French visitors are asked to “be alert in isolated areas of the city center (downtown) after business closes and to prefer traveling by taxi at night.”
Another US ally with strong tourism ties, Germany has strict gun laws and a much lower firearm homicide rate than the US.
Its foreign ministry tells German citizens that “guns are easy to obtain in the US, leading to increased gun use and occasional killing sprees. The number of weapons and ammunition purchases increased significantly during the COVID-19 crisis.”
He also warns future visitors to the US of the possibility of family conflicts over racism and police violence, and advises them to “avoid gatherings of people in their environment where violence may occur.”
For Americans, the State Department’s travel advisories are a valuable resource for figuring out the safer areas of Mexico to visit.
And Mexicans have their own concerns about visiting their neighbor to the north. (For example, one of the people killed in the mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, was a Mexican national visiting family.)
When this story was published in late November 2022, the Mexican government’s foreign travel alert page for the United States was down. However, the CNN Library research team found warnings about U.S. travel posted on the site in May 2021.
He specifically noted that “historical racial and ethnic tension, including opposition to immigration, has led to attacks by violent extremist groups” and then cited the 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Wal-Mart in which more than 20 people were killed. were killed
The government advised its citizens to avoid large crowds in the United States and travelers to always carry a copy of their Mexican passport and official photo ID.
Despite the shocking assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July, Japan has a homicide rate well below the United States.
It is therefore not surprising that the government warns that “it is important to recognize that the security situation is very different between the US and Japan, and to understand what type of crime victims are at high risk in which areas.”
He says “one of the top security concerns in the United States is gun crime” and offers plenty of advice to get out or duck in potential active shooter situations, including:
• Find security exits in a new location and make an evacuation plan
• Escaping regardless of whether others agree or not
• Hide in a room and block the door with heavy furniture
• Keep quiet and silence cell phones
If a Japanese tourist cannot run away or hide, he is advised to “throw things close to the offender, use them as weapons; scream; act with all your might.”
As of November 25, Australia’s island neighbor had an “increased caution (level 2 of 4)” alert for the United States “due to the threat of terrorism.”
New Zealand’s SAFETRAVEL website goes on to warn its citizens that “there is a higher incidence of violent crime and firearm possession than in New Zealand. In many countries, it is legal for US citizens to openly carry firearms in public. However, crime rates vary considerably between cities and suburbs , and incidents almost never involve tourists.”
It suggests that people coming to the United States research their specific destinations before traveling and seek local advice.
SAFETRAVEL directs New Zealanders to an active shooter response booklet issued by the United States Security and Infrastructure Agency.
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