By: Maurine Anderson
Still hunting for what your next international travel destination should be in 2016? Here are five popular destinations that you may want to cross off of your list.
The State Department issued a travel warning in April of this year, warning prospective travelers to Mexico that the country remains host to high levels of organized crime. (This warning, by the way, replaced one that was issued earlier in the year in January.) The warning reports that U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including homicide, kidnapping, robbing, and carjacking. In addition, the CDC has reported that local mosquito transmission of Zika virus infection has been present in Mexico, meaning that some mosquitoes in the country are carrying the virus and could therefore spread the virus to travelers.
The reality is that millions of U.S. citizens still visit Mexico safely each year for study, work, and travel, and those U.C. citizens who were victims of violent crime were likely not targeted due to their nationality. Even still, it is a good idea to be aware of the risks that exist in Mexico before traveling there.
Honduras, like Mexico, remains a popular travel destination for U.S. travelers—especially for cruisers and resort-goers. Its high crime and violence levels, however, are good reasons not to travel there in 2016. Crime and violence are high because the country’s government lacks the resources necessary to properly respond to, investigate, and prosecute cases of criminal activity. Homicide rates there, in fact, are some of the highest in the world. Even still, the government has strengthened security near frequently visited tourist sites such as the Copan Mayan ruins, Roatan, La Ceiba, and Trujillo; and U.S. citizens do not seem to be targeted specifically based on their nationality.
While Mexico may still be doable as far as travel goes, Venezuela definitely shouldn’t be on your travel itinerary. As this article details, Venezuela is currently facing the most serious economic crisis of any country in South America, and the country’s president recently declared a state of emergency there. Inflation will likely top 400% this year, and many areas of Venezuela are severely lacking in electricity access. Unemployment rates are also skyrocketing as major corporations are being forced to shut down, leading to a great many anti-government protests. Electricity, water, and a variety of household staples like flour, milk, vegetable oil, and toilet paper are being rationed as well. And as if that weren’t enough, Venezuela happens to be the homicide capital of the world, with kidnappings also relatively common. Long story short, conditions in Venezuela are far from stable enough to allow for safe traveling through the country.
Istanbul has been an increasingly popular place to travel to in recent years, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an ideal travel destination in 2016. It hasn’t been seeing the levels of violence that you’ll find in many other Middle Eastern and African countries, but it has been growing as a target for terrorist organizations, largely due to its close proximity to Iraq and Syria. The high number of refugees who have been fleeing into the country to escape violence has also been contributing to unrest. The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning back in March of this year, warning of increasing threats from terrorism groups and heightened safety concerns in southeastern Turkey. Foreign and U.S. tourists have been targeted explicitly by international and indigenous terrorist organizations, and U.S. government personnel in Turkey remain subject to travel restrictions in southeastern provinces, making Turkey an especially risky travel destination for U.S. travelers.
Kenya is a popular destination for travelers who want to visit Africa and experience an authentic African safari, but conditions there as of late make it a riskier travel destination. Last year, for example, 147 people were killed when Al-Shabaab terrorists opened fire at a college in Nairobi. Destinations within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and within the northeastern region of the country seem to be at the highest risk, and the U.S. government continues to receive information relating to terrorists attacks aimed at U.S. and Western interests in the country. Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab terrorist attacks in the country as of late have included bombings, suicide operations, kidnappings, attacks on civil aircraft, and attacks on maritime vessels. Thousands of U.S. citizens visit Kenya each year without incident, but these security risks are still something to be aware of.