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Published on : Monday, November 25, 2013
This is a diplomatic tool as well as a precautionary measure. It has mostly been used by the USA during the past few years but now many other countries are also taking the same route. Travel alerts had long been a tool for governments to protect their citizens from potential harm and inform them about avoidable hot spots in the world. In the past, US travel warnings had caused heated discussions among tourism professionals around the world. But when the warning is issued against some US city or state the Americans get riled and start questioning the motive.
Recent gun violence in the US has prompted France to issue a warning for its citizens against the United States of America. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site warns potential Chicago visitors against visiting the South and West sides of Chicago with this caveat: “éviter le West Side et le sud de la ville après la 59ème rue.” Roughly translated this means, “Stay away from the West side and any where south of 59th Street.”
This provoked Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, to respond, “Don’t get me started on what I think of the French!” He also said that if visitors don’t go to the West side, they won’t see Garfield Park. Emanuel did not mention that the Garfield Park neighborhood is one of the most violent in Chicago.
As recent reports have noted, the murder rate in Chicago, is alarming. Last year, Chicago, a city of nearly three million people had 514 murders, while France, a country of 67 million, had 665 homicides, as per Fox Chicago.
Recently, Emanuel began promoting Chicago neighbourhoods, and Choose Chicago, a Web
site which boasts the best of Chicago, states 1.369 individuals from overseas visited Chicago in 2012, a 14 percent increase over 2011.
Reportedly, Pascale Furlong, spokesman for the French Consulate in Chicago said, “It is our responsibility towards our citizens that are travelling abroad.”
Chicago was not the only city mentioned on the French Ministry site, and the mayor of
Cleveland, Ohio, Frank Jackson, called to complain about warnings on Cleveland and three
nearby suburbs: Cleveland Heights, Euclid and Lakewood. After Jackson complained, some of the negative information was removed from the site.
However the event may turn it is obvious that there are certain reasons behind such travel advisory issued by certain countries against travelling in the US.