Canada issues travel warnings to popular destinations for the week of Dec 9

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Published December 9, 2023 at 7:01 pm

Waterloo Record breaking year

With the holiday season in full swing and winter conditions casting their presence over Mississauga, Brampton, and surrounding areas, it could be an opportune moment to plan a temporary retreat to a warmer destination.

If you’re contemplating such a trip, it might be a good idea to take into account the travel advisories recently issued by the Canadian government.


El Salvador

Risks: Arbitrary enforcement of local laws and violent crime.

In March (2022) El Salvador implemented emergency measures, leading to widespread arrests of suspected criminals, often involving military and security forces. Although the security situation has improved, a state of exception persists, granting security personnel increased power for searches, seizures, and detentions.

Foreigners have been detained, sometimes arbitrarily.

In El Salvador, visitors should anticipate security checks and are advised to cooperate with authorities. Foreigners are urged to carry valid ID, refrain from travelling to places after dark, should inform someone of their whereabouts, and stay updated through local media on the evolving situation.

Reasons: Tourists are victims of petty theft such as pick pocketing and purse snatching.

Homicides, assaults, rapes, and armed robberies continue to occur with the highest frequency in major cities where people and businesses are concentrated, notably in the Greater San Salvador Area, San Miguel, and Santa Ana.

Additionally visitors are cautioned with the following:

  • Avoid flaunting wealth publicly, especially upon arrival at the international airport.
  • Keep your belongings, including passports and travel documents, secure at all times.
  • Refrain from carrying large sums of cash.
  • Exercise caution when using ATMs.
  • Opt for supervised parking when possible.
  • Ensure car doors are locked and windows closed.
  • Avoid leaving valuables in the vehicle you’re travelling in.

France

Risks: Elevated threat of terrorism.

Reasons: Petty crimes like pickpocketing, purse snatching, and mobile phone theft are common in proximity to tourist attractions, with a potential risk of future terrorist attacks including recent bomb threats.

Thieves, often skilled and frequently working in groups—particularly minors—employ various techniques to divert attention and pilfer belongings.

According to the Canadian government, on Oct. 13, the Prime Minister of France elevated the security threat level within the “Vigipirate” plan to “urgence attentat” (“attack emergency”)—the highest level in the Vigipirate plan, a comprehensive set of measures aimed at preparing and safeguarding the population and public spaces. This decision was prompted by an attack at a school in Arras.

The “Operation Sentinelle” allows for the deployment of military brigades in public spaces to patrol and prevent terrorist acts. Heightened security measures are in place across various strategic locations, including:

  • Transport hubs
  • Public areas
  • Tourist locations, particularly in Paris

Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere. Potential targets include:

  • Government buildings and local authorities’ facilities.
  • Schools and universities.
  • Places of worship.
  • Cultural venues like exhibition galleries, museums, concert halls, and theatres.
  • Airports, railway stations, and other transportation hubs.
  • Public areas such as tourist attractions, monuments, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping. centres, markets, hotels, and other sites frequently visited by foreigners.

Chile

Risks: Petty crime, ongoing demonstrations and civil unrest.

Reason: As of  Dec. 3, the municipality of Antofagasta has faced water shortages, leading to the deployment of tanks and trucks providing essential water supplies throughout the city. If you are in Antofagasta, consult local authorities for guidance on available supply options and make necessary plans.

Theft, including pickpocketing, is a concern in several regions of the country, notably in larger cities like Santiago, Calama, San Pedro de Atacama, Pucon, Iquique, Valparaíso, and Viña del Mar.

Common locations for thefts include:

  • Popular tourist areas, including viewpoints.
  • Bus terminals, train stations, and airports.
  • The Santiago subway system.
  • Hotel lobbies.
  • Restaurants, especially those with patios near streets.

Jamaica

Risks: High level of violent crime.

Reason:  Despite the presence of police to counter armed robbery and murder, crimes of this nature are a problem in large cities and tourist areas.

This can be attributed to the widespread availability of firearms which are used in most drug- and gang-related crimes.

Nearly 50 areas in Greater Kingston, St. Catherine, Montego Bay, and South Coast have a significant gang population where tourists are at risk of becoming a victim to petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching.


South Africa

South Africa is grappling with frequent power shortages or load shedding, causing regular blackouts lasting several hours throughout the day.

These disruptions are expected to persist into 2024, with the potential for extended nationwide blackouts. The country has already experienced up to 12-hour blackouts in a 24-hour period, particularly during the region’s colder months (June and July).

Blackouts can also occur suddenly, posing risks of increased criminal activity, theft, and prolonged service outages in affected areas.

Key services affected by blackouts include telecommunications, stores, accommodations, banks, gas stations, public lighting, and water supply.

Risks: Significant level of serious crime.

Reasons: Violent crimes including rape and murder, occur frequently and have involved foreigners.

Visitors are urged to prepare for extended outages with emergency kits, essential supplies, and up-to-date travel documents, while closely monitoring local media and following authorities’ instructions.

Tourists are urged to avoid travelling to the following areas at night:

  • Berea
  • Hillbrow and Yeoville in Johannesburg
  • Sunnyside in Pretoria
  • the beachfront and Victoria wharf in Durban
  • Cape Town downtown hotels to the waterfront

Costa Rica 

Risks: Frequent petty crime.

Reason: Tourists are common targets for pickpockets and purse snatchers because they are perceived as being wealthy.

Passport theft is also very common and increases during the peak tourist seasons, from November to May and from July to August.

Thieves usually work in teams, where one thief diverts the victims’ attention while the other snatches their possessions.

There also are areas where drug trafficking, violent crimes and murders occur often. These include:

  • Alajuela
  • Limón
  • Puntarenas
  • San José

Bahamas

Risks: High rates of crime, especially in Freeport and Nassau.

Reasons: Armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults are the most common crimes committed against travellers.

Robbery incidents are also common in cruise ship terminals and popular resort areas, even during daylight hours. These crimes are rampant during the holidays.

Tourists are also being warned that the water sports rental industry is poorly regulated in The Bahamas. Visitors have been seriously injured using jet skis and other watercraft.

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