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TRAVEL ADVISORY

English Countryside Sites Restricted After Farm Animal Disease Worries

March 25, 2001|EDWARD WRIGHT | Edward Wright is a former assistant foreign editor at The Times. Travel Advisory appears on the fourth Sunday of every month

Britain/Disease: Throughout the country, travel has been restricted by concerns about the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, the highly contagious ailment that affects cattle and pigs. Because the disease can be spread by clothing and footwear, Britain has declared much of the countryside off-limits to visitors, including tourist sites such as Stonehenge, Hampton Court Home Park and the Lake District. To learn about restrictions, travelers should check with their travel agent or tour operator.

Britain/Terrorism: The coming weeks may see an increase in terrorist attacks in Britain, a Scotland Yard anti-terrorism official said after a powerful bomb exploded earlier this month outside the headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corp. in London. The bomb, which injured one person, was attributed to a breakaway faction of the Irish Republican Army. Two days later, several London train stations were evacuated by security alerts that turned out to be false alarms.

Southeast Asia

Thailand and Myanmar: Because of occasional cross-border hostilities, travelers should be careful in areas along the border between Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma), the State Department says in an announcement effective until April 15. Shelling and gunfire have killed people on both sides of the border. In one incident, tourists were stranded in a town on the Myanmar side. Visitors to Thailand or Myanmar can obtain the latest travel and security information from the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok or Yangon (formerly Rangoon).

Laos: Foreign visitors no longer may obtain tourist visas upon arrival in Laos unless they have a Laotian sponsor who has arranged for the visa, according to regulations in effect since March 9. American travelers may still obtain visas from a Laotian embassy or consulate before their trip.

Middle East

Israel: Authorities upgraded already tough security precautions, particularly at bus stations, in response to a deadly bombing in a tourist town. The March 4 suicide bombing killed four people and injured dozens at an intersection in downtown Netanya, on the central coast north of Tel Aviv.

Four days earlier, police defused a briefcase bomb left near a fast-food stand in the heart of Tel Aviv.

The State Department's travel warning on Israel, in effect since Oct. 24, advises Americans in Israel to avoid shopping areas, malls, public buses and bus stops, along with the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, including the Old City. Britain has rescinded its travel warning on Jerusalem but still advises its citizens to stay out of Palestinian areas.

Caribbean

Jamaica: Canadians see Jamaica as a dangerous destination, a Canadian travel industry officer told a business luncheon gathering in Montego Bay last month. The speaker, an Air Canada Vacations executive, listed widespread crime, bad roads and drivers, and the poor quality of small hotels.

Jamaica's tourism minister conceded that the island is a "damaged" tourism product and must work to repair its image, according to a Kingston newspaper. Nevertheless, tourism has increased steadily in the last decade, the Reuters news service reported. And major upcoming projects, including a trans-island, multilane highway and a revival of the 17th century pirate haven Port Royal, are expected to attract even more visitors.

Africa

Tanzania: Tourism to the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba has plummeted since three days of street battles between police and opposition demonstrators in late January left at least 40 people dead. During the violence, hundreds of tourists were virtually trapped inside Zanzibar's Stonetown, a maze of ancient narrow streets and high stone buildings near the Indian Ocean coast.

One opposition group, denouncing the October Tanzanian national elections as invalid, has threatened violence against citizens of the United States and other Western nations. The State Department stops short of warning Americans against traveling to Zanzibar or Pemba but urges visitors to "maintain a high level of vigilance." The alert is in effect until April 18.

Briefly ...

El Salvador: As the nation recovers from two destructive earthquakes, commercial flights have resumed and the State Department has dropped its travel warning for El Salvador. But Americans should check on local conditions before deciding whether to travel there. ... Philippines: After frequent seismic tremors, the government has issued an alert for the area around Mayon Volcano, in the south of the main island of Luzon. Travelers should not venture within 31/2 miles of the mountain. ... Ecuador: Seven foreign oil workers, including four Americans, held by a guerrilla group since October, were freed after their employers paid a $13-million ransom. One American hostage was killed last month during the ransom negotiations.

Hot spots: State Department travel warnings are posted for Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Colombia, Congo (formerly Zaire), Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

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