Being a European I have my heart in Europe, still have friends and family living in different countries. I love traveling there despite the refugee crisis and the travel warnings. As sad as it is, the warning is not just for a country or two but the entire continent. The following message is posted on the webpage of the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs:
“EUROPE: Credible information indicates terrorist groups such as ISIL and al-Qa’ida and its affiliates continue to plot near-term attacks in Europe. All European countries remain vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.
European authorities continue to warn of the possibility of attacks conducted by lone individuals inspired by extremist organizations that could occur with little to no warning. Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theaters, open markets, aviation services, transportation systems, and public venues where people congregate. Authorities believe there is a high likelihood terror attacks in Europe will continue as European members of ISIL return from Syria and Iraq. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable.”
In my opinion this crisis started to affect tourism, travelers tend to avoid certain airports and airlines with a higher concentration of Muslim residents or passengers, afraid to take public transportation at night or visit certain cities where rape rate and street disturbance is high. More and more women are switching to organized tours for safety reasons instead of wondering around alone. I still consider Europe safe as long as you are taking the necessary precautions.
Greece: Yahoo News says that Greece’s island of Lesbos, a popular holiday destination for Europeans and Greeks alike, has found itself at the center of a migration crisis. Tens of thousands of people from the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia have traveled to the country’s eastern Aegean islands this year, using them as a gateway to mainland Greece and from there northward to new lives in more prosperous European Union countries. According to the USA Today vacationing in Greece might not be a completely safe experience but you have a good opportunity to have a great time and not be the victim of a crime. Tourists and vacationers are not usually targeted, but some may find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. In addition, there are terrorism concerns and other crimes that happen regularly. Greek Landscapes says that the reality is that the Greek people are undergoing considerable hardship in the form of higher taxes and lost benefits, so perhaps a few extra protests and union strikes are expected over the summer of 2016. Solution: Pick any major Greek island further away from Turkey (Santorini, Zakynthos, Corfu, etc) and you won’t see refugees getting out of rafts flooding the beach and streets.
France: I have seen a big drop in hotel room rates in downtown Paris, just booked a deluxe suite in a 4 star hotel in a historic district for only $95 (with taxes) on Christmas day, where standard rooms usually start from $220 (plus taxes) and higher during a holiday season. France, for example, is still the top destination for American tourists, but it had a 10 percent drop in overnight stays through July in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris in November and in Nice last month, The Independent reported. Street were vandalized and heavily littered with trash and personal belongings of the refugees.
Belgium: According to Telegraph the Belgian Crisis Center said the threat level for Brussels is 4, meaning a “serious and imminent threat”, whereas the rest of the country is at 3. You should consider factoring in extra time for your journey due to increased security measures in place at UK ports, borders and airports. A “Tent City” was set-up in downtown parks which is an eyesore for any tourist.
Daytime prayers are common in many European cities, you are not to disturb them.
Sweden and Germany: According to News.com Germany, Sweden and other European countries are facing growing public unrest amid a wave of reports of sexual assaults since the Cologne attacks. New York-based conservative think tank Gatestone Institute has compiled a shocking list of sexual assaults and rapes by migrants in Germany in just the first two months of the year. Drawing only from German media reports, the list documents more than 160 instances of rape and sexual assault committed by migrants in train stations, swimming pool and other public places against victims as young as seven.
If you are taking a train don’t be surprised if you come across with police searching for migrants.
Lot of locals are marching against refugees blocking main roads and near government buildings.
Turkey: Turkey Travel Planner reported several terrorist attacks in recent months and the July 15, 2016 attempt by elements of the Turkish armed forces at a coup d’état have rightly frightened potential visitors to Turkey. On July 21st, the Turkish government declared a State of Emergency in the country, giving the president and other top leaders extraordinary powers. The State of Emergency is apparently to last at least three months.
According to travel experts only a small percentage of travelers cancelled their trips, a bigger percentage rather switched their destinations and paid the modification fee, which is a significant amount for European tickets. Instead of going to Turkey or Greece, tourists tend to pick Italy, Spain and Portugal, which have a similar climate but are considered safer.
Airfare is also lower than normal but keep in mind the commercial airlines are also trying to compete with European low cost carriers.
Images: theparkmanpost, Slate.com, drsunilgupta.com, tvn24.pl, wvtf.org, telesurtv.net, vestnikkavkaza.net, britanfirst.org, shoebat.com, thinkinghousewife.com. telegraph.co.uk, London Media Press Ltd