What Danger Awaits the Weary Traveler?
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid...Not
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid...Not
So is travel dangerous? Not really. One survey says that you are less likely to have an accident on vacation than when you are at home. So what does that mean? That unemployed homeless people live longer than suburbanite workaholics? Other surveys say that most people are injured within a five-mile radius of their homes. So shop more than five miles out? It's hard to sell people on the idea of selling expeditions to the local 7-11 as the most dangerous form of travel, but it's true. If you believe the doom and gloom of the statistics, death is not a Chechen terrorist but comes softly on bunny-slippered feet.
But common sense usually prevails (I said usually).People still buy bus tours to Yemen, there are sex tourists in Cambodia and Uganda's gorillas are still amused by hordes of Tilley-hatted ecotourists.The message is that travel can be dangerous if you want it to be and it can be very safe if you want it to be.Even in a war zone.
The statistics and stories you are bombarded with on tourist misfortune has to be viewed against the staggering numbers of tourists out there at any one time.
In a typical year there are about half a billion tourists or travelers wandering around the world. That's a lot money belts, white shoes, Kodak boxes and cream of mushroom legs. In the mid-1800s, Thomas Cook started the package tour and the race was on. Railroads, steamships, buses, hotels, restaurants and prices sprang up to accommodate strangers, and other than a couple of world wars, tourism was on its way to become the world's largest industry.
In 1955 there were only 46 million people traveling from one country to another. Most of them were well-heeled folks "doing the continent" or "taking the sun." Ten years later there were 144 million and today there are 500 million. That's a lot of Samsonite. It also means you read a lot more about misfortune, illnesses and death. These travelers cleaned out their wallets to the tune of $315 billion. Over the next few years tourism is expected to grow around 4.3 percent to 7.1 percent according to the World Tourism Organization. So move back to the rear of the bus.
Besides overcrowding, what do those half a billion people worry about when they travel? Most worry about high prices, safety and dirty accommodations in that order. Price is not this book's bailiwick, but you can figure out what things cost pretty easily these days. For informatin on dirt, you'll have to wait until you check into Pedro's Casa D'Amore before you race the cockroaches for your bath soap.
But safety, now that's an important thing to know about, wouldn't you think? Well, the sad fact is there are no comparative statistics on country or travel safety. I'll say it again in case you don't believe me. There is no way for a traveler to learn the relative safety of his or her destination. Sure you can call up Pinkerton's, Kroll O'Gara or even the State Department and they will give your their best statistical shot massaged with a healthy dose of WAG (wild-ass guess) to let you know if you should pack your Kevlar boxers. But the question I am asked over and over (Is it dangerous?) just can't be answered with statistics. Suffice it to say, the long form answer is the purpose of this book.
Now, I am not going to stop you from visiting the local tourist police office in Ouagadougou and you can even twist the arm of the tourism board in Mogadishu for recent robberies, but you will come up dry. Why?
Crime hurts tourism. Tourism means money. Money means overdevelopment. Massive overdevelopment breeds crime. Cheap hotels, cheap bars and even cheaper tourists now crowd the south of Europe, Mexican beaches, budget Caribbean islands and even meccas like Torremolinos, Daytona Beach, Cancun, Las Vegas and Branson. The migratory arrival of pendulous grannies, knobkneed welders, screaming kids and haggard housewives creates an instant feeding frenzy of snotty-nosed beggars, clapped-out hookers, gold-toothed cops, nimble-fingered teenagers and math-challenged bartenders. Soon all of these subdenizens are tugging at your Fila knockoff shorts, creating the perfect scenario for scams and theft. So understand a basic premise of tourist crime. Tourists breed crime like plastic sneakers breed fungus.
Forget about warfare, hotel bombs and public assassinations. Your biggest danger is having that rental car window smashed in and the Elvis decanter you left in the backseat ripped off. Hey, it was your fault, all the locals know to hide that stuff, so most destinations have no reason to publicize your stupidity to other equally stupid but unexpecting visitors. Remember the $315 billion these turistas spend every year. Some countries live or die based on tourism. If you come across statistics kept by tourist police you will quickly learn that it doesn't seem that bad because (duh) there are tourist police. If you call a government they will tell you that they don't keep statistics because there is no hard fine between a tourist crime and a regular crime. When I point out that usually a tourist has a plane ticket and a foreign passport, they say something like "I guess so." The bottom line is that after eight years of doing this book I have found no absolute indicator of crime rates against tourists. I can tell you that tourism breeds crime, and when Arthur Frommer starts complaining about tourist crime on his septuagenarian and low-budget wanderings, look out.
http://www. Nashville. Net/-police/risk/