U.S. issues fresh travel advisory to its citizens

State Department overhauls travel advisory method

State Department overhauls travel advisory method

The State Department launched its new travel advisory system Wednesday in an effort to simplify the information it provides to American travelers about security threats overseas.

According to the report, the department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs categorised Level One as "exercise normal precaution" on U.S. travellers, Level Two is "exercise increase caution", Level Three is "reconsider travel", and Level Four is "do not travel".

The US State Department identified "crime and terrorism" in India, while ranking at Level 2, advising Americans to exercise increased caution while visiting India.

"This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk", the State Department informed. The US asks its citizens to "reconsider travel" to Level 3 countries such as Pakistan, while for Level 4, which lists countries such as Afghanistan, the US recommends "Do Not Travel". The US has in the past warned against travel to Kenya, prompting complaints that such notifications were unjustified and damaging to the nation's economy.

The office also mentioned that the US government was unable to provide any consular services to USA citizens from the Consulate General in Peshawar. "Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time", the State Department's webpage notes in its fact sheet. "How we assess the threat level in a country hasn't changed". Canada and Australia are among the countries ranked level one.

"We let people know what restrictions we've imposed on ourselves", Bernier-Toth said.

The new rankings replace the vague and often confusing system of issuing "travel alerts" for short-term dangers posed by events such as epidemics or mass protests, and "travel warnings" for long-standing concerns such as armed conflict or political instability. She noted that even some of her colleagues had difficulty understanding the difference between "travel alerts" and "travel warnings" under the previous system.

"So it's going to be very obvious", Bernier-Toth said. The one exception is North Korea, where the State Department has prohibited citizens from using their US passports to visit without first obtaining a waiver.

Travellers are told to "exercise increased caution in Tanzania due to crime, terrorism, and targeting of LGBTI persons".

Countries ranked at Level Three include Cuba, Dominica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Lebanon, Sudan, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Russia and Venezuela.

"We wanted it to be an easier to understand system", Risch said.

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