| Editorial by Fred Taub,
Boycott Watch has previously
reported the dangers associated with travel to Aruba in our coverage of the
Aruba boycott inspired by the disappearance of Natelee Holloway. Now the US
State Department has issued a travel warning to spring breakers that goes
beyond just Aruba, and it should be addressed to all travelers to the Caribbean
in general. Much of the warning echoes Boycott Watch reports about Aruba.
Boycott Watch believes the timing of the State
Department safety notice is poor. By the time it was released, many students
have not only purchased their travel packages, but in many cases are already
there. We also believe that the notice was triggered in part because of Boycott
Watch President Fred Taub discussed these exact same issues on Your World with
Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel, resulting in political pressure for the
State Department to say or do something.
Start of US State
Office of the Spokesman
February 20, 2008
International Travel Safety
Information for American Students
As spring and
summer breaks approach, many students are getting ready for a trip abroad. The
following information will help students plan a safe and enjoyable adventure.
First, a note about U.S. passports: As of January
23, 2007, everyone traveling in and out of the United States by air needs a
passport. We encourage students to apply now! Processing times are
traditionally faster in February.
As of January 31,
2008, all U.S. residents, age 19 and older, will be required to show proof of
citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate, and a
government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license - or a passport - when
traveling to Western Hemisphere countries by land or ferry. (Persons age 18 and
younger will need proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or
naturalization certificate - or a passport - when traveling to Canada, Mexico,
Bermuda and the countries of the Caribbean by land or ferry.) This also applies
to sea travel if cruises begin or end outside of the United States. Students
planning cruises should also be sure to confirm document requirements with
their cruise line.
As soon as summer 2009 U.S.
citizens entering the United States by land or ferry will need either a U.S.
passport; a U.S. passport card; or a trusted traveler card such as NEXUS, FAST,
Information about the new regulations
regarding travel by air, land and sea, as well as general information about
traveling abroad, can be found on the Department of State's website at
Travel safety is a major concern.
Although most students will have a safe and enjoyable adventure, others may
encounter serious problems. Each year, more than 2,500 American citizens are
arrested abroad - about half on narcotics charges, including possession of very
small amounts of illegal substances. Alcohol also can cause trouble for U.S.
citizens traveling abroad. Students have been arrested for being intoxicated in
public areas, for underage drinking, and for drunk driving. Some people are
victimized because they are unaware of the laws, customs, or standards of the
country they are visiting.
Disorderly or reckless
behavior can have serious repercussions. Acts that are legal at home in the
United States could lead to arrest and prosecution in foreign countries. Some
Americans go abroad assuming that local authorities will overlook such conduct
because they are American citizens. This is simply not the case. Americans who
violate the laws of the countries they visit may be arrested, and they could
face severe penalties, including long prison sentences. In fact, some countries
have mandatory death sentences for drug offenses.
Being arrested is not the only thing that can go wrong on a foreign vacation.
Americans have been badly injured or have been killed in automobile accidents,
falls, and other mishaps. Many of these incidents are related to alcohol or
drug use. Other Americans have been sexually assaulted or robbed because they
found themselves in unfamiliar locales, or were incapable of protecting
themselves because of drug or alcohol use, or because they were the victim of a
"date rape" drug.
The most common cause of death of
Americans overseas, other than natural causes, is by motor vehicle accidents.
Standards of safety and supervision overseas may be different from those in the
United States. Many Americans have died after automobile accidents on bad roads
and after falls from poorly-fenced balconies. Americans should also exercise
caution when swimming or engaging in water sports. Obey signs and flags and
stay out of the water when red or black flags are posted.
Standards of safety and supervision overseas may
also be different at hotels and resorts. Be cautious in pools or at beaches
without lifeguards. Do not dive into unknown bodies of water, because hidden
rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death. If you choose to
swim, always exercise extreme caution. Rent from reputable operators and insist
on sufficient training before using equipment like scooters, jet-skis, scuba
gear and personal watercraft. The exercise of simple common sense can help
prevent serious accidents.
More safety tips for
students traveling abroad can be found on the web at
travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/safety/safety_2836.html. Beginning March 1,
2008, please also see the State Department's new website for American students
traveling overseas, studentsabroad.state.gov., for safety, travel, and
Students are strongly
urged to register their foreign travel on the State Department's website at
https://travelregistration.state.gov before the trip begins. Travel
registration makes it possible for the State Department to contact a traveler
if necessary, whether because of a family emergency in the United States or
because of a crisis in the foreign country.
further information contact:
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Policy Coordination and Public Affairs
Press inquiries: (202) 647-1488
Internet address: travel.state.gov; studentsabroad.state.gov
inquiries: toll-free (888) 407-4747
End of US
State Department warning