Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The World in a Week

In a previous post I mentioned my reasons for abandoning a weekly round-up of news events in favour of interesting travel articles. One of the reasons for this switch is that I tend to see the same issues over and over again in the news. The people and places may change, but in any given week certain things are likely to occur.

While the inquest into Diana's death and the latest celebrity hi-jinks aren't likely to affect your travel plans, here are ten things I see in a typical week that might :
  1. Something blows up. Unfortunately, bombs are a daily occurrence rather than a weekly one, and they aren't always where you'd expect.
  2. There's usually one tropical cyclone (aka hurricane or typhoon) somewhere in the world, if not two or three in peak season. Not all of them strike land, but some will head for tourists areas.
  3. Severe weather kills people and destroys homes and businesses.
  4. A union or workers' group is on strike or threatening to go on strike. Not all strike threats are carried out, and some job actions are short and cause only minor delays. Others cause massive transportation disruptions for both commuters and tourists.
  5. Someone is protesting something. Sometimes these protests end in violence. Usually they don't, but they should be avoided anyway.
  6. People die due to an outbreak of some illness. Avian Flu is perhaps the most widely reported due its pandemic potential, but there are many other diseases that pose an immediate risk to travellers.
  7. There are earthquakes. Luckily, most earthquakes are minor ones.
  8. Elections (including the run-up and post-election periods) cause controversy at best, outbreaks of violence at worst.
  9. There is an air travel related incident, whether its an accident, near accident, severe delay or customer service issue.
  10. There is war and civil strife.
Okay, I admit that the last point is very broad. It's a truism to say there is always going to be war somewhere. However, I read enough about fighting in places like Iraq and Sri Lanka (not to mention the many others) that war should at least be included on the list. Many countries previously affected by war, such as parts of Eastern Europe, recover in a few years and become tourist hot-spots again.

So is the world really that scary? Bear in mind that these ten things cover more than 200 countries and regions (contrary to the Disney song, it really is a big world after all). Most of these issues might have travellers making adjustments to their plans or taking extra precautions rather than running for their lives... if they are affected at all. Sometimes the news seems worse the further away you are from it.

What you don't hear about in the mainstream news is the hundreds of thousands of travellers each week that don't have any problems at all. Should you read the "scary stuff"? It's all part of keeping informed. How seriously you take it is up to you.

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