State Department updates travel advisories so they're understandable

Any country that receives a ranking of level two or higher is also assigned a corresponding “risk indicator” to inform the traveler why the country may be dangerous

Any country that receives a ranking of level two or higher is also assigned a corresponding “risk indicator” to inform the traveler why the country may be dangerous

The State Department Wednesday launched improvements on sharing information with U.S. travellers to provide clear, timely and reliable safety and security information.

The State Department, on Wednesday, issued a new travel advisory for several countries including India, and placed countries from Level 1 to 4.

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

Now every country has a travel advisory based on this system, which has replaced all the previous such advisories.

On the other hand, countries ranked at Level Two include China, India, Indonesia, Phillippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. 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.

"In the process of that review, we will look very carefully and we wanted to make sure that we were being consistent across the globe as to how we were assessing and ranking countries." she added.

"We wanted to make sure that the USA traveling public was aware of all those restrictions that we impose on ourselves", Bernier-Toth said.

The State Department does, however, restrict the use of a USA passport for travel to North Korea.

Officials in the Kenyan government and the country's tourism industry are likely to welcome the changes initiated by the Trump administration.

As well as Slovakia, Australia, Canada, Austria and the Czech Republic are in this group.

The new system includes an interactive world map, with countries colour-coded blank, yellow, orange or red, according to their rankings. Advisories are based on information from intelligence agencies, United States embassies and host countries' governments, she said.

On Tuesday, US senators heard State Department officials say someone known to the Cuban government has a mystery weapon that they use to cause brain trauma to Americans in Havana. It urges travelers to stay away from the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas (all level 4). The one exception is North Korea, where the State Department has prohibited citizens from using their USA passports to visit without first obtaining a waiver.

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

But Cuba is ranked only level three, "Reconsider Travel". Bernier-Toth said USA embassies were given the new rankings ahead of time so they could notify the governments of the impending change.

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