The U.S. is Now the Place That Other Countries are Warning Travelers About Visiting
Update: France, Canada, New Zealand and Germany have since joined the list of countries warning their citizens about visiting the US, citing gun violence, police brutality, and anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT sentiments, as well as the slow spread of the Zika Virus, which is now being locally-transmitted in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Government-issued travel warnings are nothing new to American travelers. Whether it’s in the wake of a terror attack or in anticipation of hurricane season, the U.S. State Department regularly issues Travel Alerts and Warnings to its citizens, cautioning them of any areas where travel might be deemed unsafe. What we’re not used to is being the place that other countries are warning their residents about, which unfortunately is now the case in the Bahamas, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in the Bahamas posted a travel advisory for anyone planning to visit the United States, just hours after five police officers were killed by a gunman in Dallas as people gathered to protest the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both shot and killed by police within a 24-hour period. In part, the advisory states:
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has taken a note of the recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by police officers. We wish to advise all Bahamians traveling to the U.S., but especially to the affected cities, to exercise appropriate caution generally. In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate.”
Warnings from two governments in the Middle East soon followed, with the Bahrain embassy telling people on Twitter to “be cautious of protests or crowded areas occurring around the U.S.,” while the UAE urged its citizens to “stay away from any ongoing or planned demonstrations and protests in cities around the United States.”
While the U.S. has issued three dozen travel advisories and warnings this year alone, it’s not often that the shoe is on the other foot. But it’s not the first time foreign travelers have been warned about problems in the U.S. In April, the U.K. updated its American travel advice section to note that "LGBT travelers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi."
International visitors are heeding the warnings and seem to be feeling some increased tension. According to Fortune, visitors to Times Square admitted to being nervous about the recent violence and protests, with one Irish traveler saying, “I don’t like to be in crowded places anymore.”