Countries to avoid in Africa

Countries to Avoid in Africa | The list of Travel Warnings for countries in Africa is endless. From Libya in the north to Lesotho in the south almost every country fills a chapter. But two countries in particular stand out from the crowd:

Countries to Avoid in Africa: Somalia

Countries to Avoid in Africa: Somalia
Countries to Avoid in Africa: Somalia.

Countries to Avoid in Africa: Somalia | The so-called Federal Republic of Somalia does not exist as a country in the modern sense of politics and economics. Technically speaking what is described as Somalia has been in an ungoverned region of civil war since 1991 – the year that saw Mohamed Siad Barre and his Somali Democratic Republic fall into a political vacuum. The influence of the current government on Somalia’s 10 million people is at about zero. Somalis employ themselves. The informal economy is in an okayish state. For tourists Somalia would be very very dangerous. Fortunately there are none.

Somalia – What will you miss out on? Nothing. There are neither natural nor cultural sites worth visiting in Somalia.

Countries to Avoid in Africa: Madagascar

Countries to Avoid: Madagaskar
Countries to Avoid in Africa: Madagascar.

Countries to Avoid in Africa: Madagascar | Known for some super gorgeous, unique and diverse landscape, Madagascar provides travelers the opportunity to visit thick jungles, swamps, deserts, and miles of just stunning coast lines. As a tourist you’d be able to view wildlife and nature that you cannot encounter anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately here the story already ends, because Madagascar is politically very unstable, and there are many potential dangers, scams, and annoyances going on in this otherwise beautiful country. You can’t drink water from the tap, you can’t dring local milk or creamer, you can’t eat local meat, you will most likely get either Malaria, Dengue or Chikungunya, or all three diseases at once. There is no functioning public transport, and traffic rules do not exist. The many stray dogs on this island carry rabies. Theft is a wide spread profession. The police will put you in jail if you do not carry your passport. Last not least, in case you have no choice but to travel to Madagascar: Under no circumstances never ever fly Air Mad. You have been warned.

Madagascar – What will you miss out on? For example Ifaty = on the coast of southwest Madagascar. Offshore, a 60-mile long coral reef. And you will miss out on The Avenue of the Baobabs = a group of truly astonishing big baobab trees lining the road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina. Ile Sainte Marie = an island off the east coast of Madagascar with protected bays and inlets that already drew the attention of pirates during the 17th and 18th centuries. The wrecks of several pirate ships can still be viewed from the shallow waters of the Baie des Forbans.

Countries avoid Africa Madagascar
Out of this world: Baobab trees in Madagascar

Read more:
Countries to Avoid in Africa
Countries to Avoid in Asia
Countries to Avoid in Latin America

Countries avoid Africa. By Chili and Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here.

Countries to avoid in Latin America

Countries to avoid in Latin America | With terrorism spreading across Europe, and continued unrest in the Middle East and northern Africa, travelers start to see Latin America as an alternative likely safer destination. According to the IATA (International Air Transit Association), Latin American carriers experienced an almost 10% increase in traffic in 2016 and 2017. We agreed that Chile and Costa Rica will back this peaceful image for sure. But the rest of region is not as peaceful as one might think. Three latin american countries in particular stand out to be very unsafe for international tourists:

Countries to Avoid: Venezuela

Countries avoid Latin America Venezuela
Countries to avoid in Latin America: Venezuela.

Countries to Avoid: Venezuela | Rich in oil and gas, but heavily violent and dangerous. Venezuela finds itself at number 164 out of 178 in the Corruption Perceptions Index. It ranks dead last at 99 out of 99 in the Rule of Law Index. Venezuela is among the most violent places on Earth. A person gets murdered every 21 minutes. Violent crimes have been so prevalent in Venezuela that the government no longer publishes crime data. The homicide rate was 80 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013 = the world’s highest. It quadrupled in the past 15 years with over 200,000 people murdered. Venezuela is especially dangerous toward foreign travelers and investors. In 1989 29 kidnappings had been counted. In 2011 it was 1150 – not even including so-called “express kidnappings”.

This you miss: Angel Falls -> the highest uninterrupted waterfalls in the world (978 meters) and Los Llanos -> the last stronghold for the Orinoco Crocodile, home to anacondas, capybaras, jaguars and caimans. Also worth mentioning: Los Roques Archipelago NP -> largest marine park in the Caribbean Sea with plenty of almost untouched coral reefs.

Countries to Avoid: Colombia

Countries avoid Latin America Colombia
Countries to avoid in Latin America: Colombia.

Countries to Avoid: Colombia | Drugs,  cartels, violence,  murders, gangs, kidnappings – it will be a long hard walk for Colombia down from the top spot in the list of the Worlds most dangerous countries. Outdated rumors have not yet been cleared up in tourist seeding countries. International travelers still seem convinced: if you go to Colombia you may not return. Violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect rural and urban areas in Colombia. But it’s slowly getting better. The first backpackers already arrived :)

This you miss: Cartagena – old colonial town. Rosario Islands – with water so bright and clear, you will not believe your eyes. The Rock of Guatape and El Peñol – with the best views in entire Colombia.

Countries to Avoid: Mexico

Countries avoid Latin America Mexico
Countries to avoid in Latin America: Mexico.

Countries to Avoid: Mexico | Make no mistake. Mexico is a dangerous country. But it’s also a hot vacation destination for US tourists. For the most part, drug-related violence and crime is limited to drug cartel areas and drug trafficking routes. The level of crime in resorts and tourist cities isn’t nearly as high. But that doesn’t mean tourists are safe. In 2014 100 US citizens were murdered in Mexico. 130 were kidnapped. Besides that, carjackings and robberies by organized criminal groups take place every minute.

This you miss: Chichen Itza – the largest of the Maya cities in the Yucatan Peninsula and one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations. Metropolis of Teotihuacán – its huge Pyramid of the Sun was built around 100 AD and is the largest pyramid in Mexico.

Read more:
Countries to Avoid in Asia
Countries to Avoid in Latin America
Countries to Avoid in Africa

Countries avoid Latin America. By Chili and Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here. Header image from – Cartagena, Colombia: What it’s really like to go inside the Walled city.

Countries to avoid in Asia

Countries to avoid in Asia | Today we start a mini series of three blog posts about countries to avoid as a tourist. Starting with Asia we will hop to Latin America tomorrow and finish in Africa on Tuesday. Discouraging you from traveling to certain countries does not mean the locals are generally hostile to tourists. We rather blame the men in power for not stepping up.

Countries to Avoid: North Korea

Countries avoid Asia North Korea
Countries to Avoid: North Korea.

Countries to avoid in Asia: North Korea | Why? because of an unimaginably crazy government. People grown up in East Germany might be the only ones, being able to understand the horrific situation in North Korea. Just don’t go there. You would support the current rulers with your tourist spendings.

This is what you will miss out on: the Paekdusan Volcano and Mount Kumgang, both locations are actually very nice. Maybe in another life.

Countries to Avoid: Afghanistan

Countries avoid Asia Afghanistan
Countries to avoid in Asia: Afghanistan.

Countries to Avoid: Afghanistan | No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence. Economically, Afghanistan is considered very poor. In the last 30 years the country has been in chaos due to major wars – from the Soviet invasion of 1979 to warlordism and the U.S. American invasion. Russians, Americans, Mujahideen, Taliban, Al-Qaida and IS-terrorists made this country a no-go for tourists.

This you miss: Panjshir Mountains – They are located in North East of Afghanistan. Very rough but beautiful landscapes.

Countries to Avoid: Pakistan

Countries to Avoid: Pakistan
Countries to avoid in Asia: Pakistan.

Countries avoid Asia | Open the roof of a house, throw in some kalashnikovs, some radical thoughts, a dash of togetherness, close the roof and wait for what’s coming out the door. You will produce the most dangerous people on earth, because Pakistan people are behind in virtually every index. Pakistan features along with 17 countries from Africa and India. Give an uneducated person a gun, and you generate suicidal Al-Qaida-Taliban-IS-men-slaughtering terrorists.  Don’t risk your life. Avoid these people.

This you miss: Neelam Valley, Hunza Valley, Swat Valley, Kaghan Valley, Kalash Valley.

 Countries to Avoid: Saudi-Arabia

Countries avoid Asia Saudi-Arabia
Countries to avoid in Asia: Saudi-Arabia.

Countries to Avoid: Saudi-Arabia | Due to the price decline for a barrel of crude oil over the last years from $92 to $42 the government of Saudi Arabia lost 50% of it’s future income. The country currently lives from its reserves, which might be gone within the next four years, if oil and gas prices do not go back up soon. In other words: it’s boiling under the hood already. Apart from this – for all those of you still going to Saudi Arabia: traveling into the desert is extremely dangerous for foreigners – especially women – due to the ultra conservative culture of armed Bedouins. Tourists in Saudi-Arabia have no access to hospitals, not even in emergency situations and with possession of a health insurance.

This you miss: Masjid an-Nabi in Medina, Grand Mosque in Mecca, Black Stone in Mecca, Kingdom Centre Tower in Riyadh

Countries to Avoid: Yemen

Countries to Avoid: Yemen
Countries to Avoid: Yemen.

Countries to Avoid: Yemen | Last in this list a heavy one. Don’t under estimate the dangers waiting for you in Yemen. Foreign Ministries of most countries worldwide advise against all travel to Yemen. Nobody will give any support or assistance to its citizens when in trouble in Yemen. Most embassies are closed. There is a high threat from terrorism throughout Yemen and specific methods of attack are evolving and increasing in sophistication. Avoid this country. Throughout the Old City of Sanaa spray painted slogans stain a labyrinth of ancient passages: “Death to America.” Tribal kidnappings are on the rise and foreigners were becoming lucrative commodities for al-Qaeda, which is headquartered in the country. Expats were whisked away at gunpoint from bustling commercial districts in broad daylight.

This you miss: Old City of Sanaa – one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites on earth. Socotra Island – contains some of the world’s most astonishing and unique plant forms. More than a third of the 800 or so species on Socotra Island are found nowhere else on this planet. Shoab Beach – crystal clear water, dolphins, wonderful landscape.

Countries avoid Asia. By Chili and Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here. Header image by Boris Khvostichenko – Dracaena cinnabari (Dragon’s Blood Tree). Wikipedia GFDL

Event Tourism: Woodstock

Event tourism Woodstock | For the local tourism industry it was a disaster beyond any comparison, for the tourists it was the most amazing event ever: Woodstock Music & Art Fair near the town of Bethel (NY) between August 15 and 17, 1969, attracted an audience of over 400,000 people. And nobody did pay for accommodation.

Event tourism Woodstock
Arlo Guthrie’s words at Woodstock (“The New York State Thruway is closed, man!”) turned out to be not true. The truth was that local police closed exits near Woodstock to prevent more people to come to the counterculture festival.

It was only a 2.5 hour ride from New York City up the Hudson River to Woodstock, near the Ashokan Reservoir; seemed like perfect for a weekend trip. But local residents of the Woodstock area did not like the idea of hosting a “hippie concert”. And for the organisers (working under the name “Woodstock Ventures”) the event grew into a never ending headache for years to come. Initially Woodstock Ventures settled the concert on an industrial site near the city of Wallkill. But permits were revoked just one month before the festival was to take place. Residents opposed the project. In early July, the Town Board passed a law requiring a permit for any gathering over 5,000 people. On July 15, 1969, the Wallkill Zoning Board of Appeals officially banned the concert on the basis that the planned portable toilets would not meet town code. Reports of the ban turned out to be a publicity bonanza for the festival. Luckily Woodstock Ventures stumbled into Max Yasgur,owner of a dairy farm in nearby Bethel. For $75,000 in return the Bethel Town Attorney and a building inspector approved the permits, although the Bethel Town Board refused to issue them formally. Clark was ordered to post stop-work orders. But there was no way back. Too many stars did already sign contracts.

Event tourism Woodstock
Event Tourism Woodstock: Largest counter culture festival ever.

In April 1969, newly minted superstars CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) became the first act to sign a contract for the event, agreeing to play for $10,000. The promoters had experienced difficulty landing big-name groups prior to CCCR committing to play. Once CCR inked their deal, it become easy to sign other stars. A list of the monetary breakdown:

1. Jimi Hendrix – $18,000
2. Blood, Sweat and Tears – $15,000
3. Joan Baez – $10,000
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – $10,000
5. The Band – $7,500
6. Janis Joplin – $7,500
7. Jefferson Airplane – $7,500
8. Sly and the Family Stone – $7,000
9. Canned Heat – $6,500
10. The Who – $6,250
11. Richie Havens – $6,000
12. Arlo Guthrie – $5,000
13. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – $5,000
14. Ravi Shankar – $4,500
15. Johnny Winter – $3,750
16. Ten Years After – $3,250
17. Country Joe and the Fish – $2,500
18. Grateful Dead – $2,500
19. The Incredible String Band – $2,250
20. Mountain – $2,000
21. Tim Hardin – $2,000
22. Joe Cocker – $1,375
23. Sweetwater – $1,250
24. John B. Sebastian – $1,000
25. Melanie – $750
26. Santana – $750
27. Sha Na Na – $700
28. Keef Hartley – $500
29. Quill – $375

Woodstock was designed as a profit-making event. Tickets cost $18 in advance and $24 at the gate (equivalent to $120 and $160 today). Ticket sales were limited to record stores in the greater New York City area, or by mail via a P.O.Box. Around 186,000 advance tickets were sold. Those $3,35million earned would have covered all investments, leaving the promoters with a decent profit. But things took a different turn, making them pay off debt for another decade …

Event tourism Woodstock
Woodstock 1969 is a perfect example of missed chances of a local tourist industry to cash out on an event. And because of these missed chances this festival reached legendary status.

The late change in venue did not give the festival organisers enough time to prepare. At a meeting three days before the event, Woodstock Ventures felt they had two options: #1 was to complete the fencing and ticket booths, without which the promoters were almost certain to lose more money. #2 involved putting their remaining available resources into building a proper stage, without which the promoters feared they would have a disappointed and disgruntled audience. The decision fell in favour of the stage, and that was the right move. Because fences became an oxymoron anyway, and the stage needed to withstand a lot of heavy rain.

Event tourism Woodstock
Woodstock Ventures estimated the crowd to be at 200,000 max. Twice as many came. Another one million did not reach the venue.

The huge influx of attendees to the concert site was simply overwhelming. It created massive traffic jams. Eventually, announcements on radio stations as far away as WNEW-FM in Manhattan and descriptions of the traffic jams on TV news discouraged people from setting off to the festival. To add to the problems and difficulty in dealing with such large crowd, recent rains had caused muddy roads and fields. The facilities were neither equipped to provide sanitation nor first aid for 400,000 people. The hippies found themselves in a struggle against bad weather, food shortages, and poor sanitation.

Jimi Hendrix was the last act to perform at Woodstock. Hendrix took the stage at 8:30am Monday morning. The remaining audience was now reduced to about 30,000; many of them merely waited to catch a glimpse of Hendrix before they had to urgently leave during his performance. Don’t forget, it was a Monday. Most people needed to go back to work.

Event tourism Woodstock Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix was the main and final gig at Woodstock. But due heavy rain his stage appearance was delayed until Monday morning 8:30am. Less than 10% of the 400,000 people attending the counterculture festival where able to see Jimi Hendrix perform.

Woodstock ’69 turned out to be an epic success – the most famous music festival ever. It was remarkably peaceful given the number of people and the conditions involved. Nearly every second adult was stoned. Still there were only two recorded fatalities: one from what was believed to be a heroin overdose, and another caused in an accident when a tractor ran over an attendee sleeping in a nearby hayfield. There also were two births recorded at the event: one in a car caught in traffic and another in a hospital after an airlift by helicopter.

Very few reporters from outside the immediate area were on the scene. During the first two days of the festival, a predominantly arrogant national media coverage only emphasized the problems. Front page headlines in the Daily News read “Traffic Uptight at Hippiefest” and “Hippies Mired in a Sea of Mud”. Coverage became more positive by the end of the festival, because parents of concertgoers called the media and told them, based on their children’s stories, the media reporting was misleading.

The New York Times covered the prelude to the festival and the move from Wallkill to Bethel. Barnard Collier, who reported from the event for The New York Times, asserts that he was pressured by on-duty editors at the paper to write a misleadingly negative article about the event. According to Collier, this led to acrimonious discussions and his threat to refuse to write the article until the paper’s executive editor agreed to let him write the article as he saw fit. The eventual article dealt with issues of traffic jams and minor lawbreaking, but went on to emphasize cooperation, generosity, and the good nature of the festival goers.

Woodstock Aftermath

The documentary film Woodstock, directed by Michael Wadleigh and edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese, was released in 1970. Artie Kornfeld (one of the promoters of the festival) went to Fred Weintraub, an executive at Warner Bros., and asked for money to film the festival. Artie had been turned down everywhere else, but against the express wishes of other Warner Bros. executives, Weintraub put his job on the line and gave Kornfeld $100,000 to make a very very successful documentary. What a lucky move! Woodstock helped to save Warner Bros. at a time when the company was on the verge of going out of business.

Right after Woodstock approximately 80 lawsuits were filed against Woodstock Ventures. But the documentary financed all settlements and even paid off another $1.4 million of debt the organizers had incurred from the festival. Today the Woodstock album released in 1970 is listed as #24 in the all time list of best-selling albums by year in the United States. Woodstock 2 – released in 1971 – is ranked #47.

Farmer Max Yasgur refused to rent out his farm for a 1970 revival of the festival.

Bethel voters tossed out their supervisor in an election held in November 1969 because of his role in bringing the festival to the town. New York State and the town of Bethel passed mass gathering laws designed to prevent any more festivals from occurring.

Woodstock quickly became a pilgrimage destination for hippies and their children. Still it took locals almost 30 years to realize that they missed out on a lot of financial benefits from this “one-in-a-million” event. Many ill advised attempts were made to prevent people from visiting the site, its owners spread chicken manure, and during one anniversary, tractors and state police cars formed roadblocks. But in 1997 a community group put up a welcoming sign for visitors. The mood slowly changed. Unlike Bethel, the town of Woodstock made several efforts to cash in on its notoriety. In 2006 also Bethel’s stance changed. A Center of Arts opened in 2006 at the site of the 1969 Music and Art Fair. The town now embraces the festival. Efforts have begun to forge a link between Bethel and Woodstock. Too late. Even the children of the Woodstock generation are now in their 50s. The show ended without a cut for the local tourist industry.

Event tourism Woodstock
Find cheap accommodation near Woodstock. Click on the picture.

Event tourism Woodstock. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here.

Event Tourism: eSports

Event tourism eSports hits Genting, Malaysia | Parents are shocked, kids are in awe! Remember when your parents did not like seeing you traveling to Roskilde just to admire The Cure or Iggy Pop? Well, now you are a parent yourself, and you will have to eat this: A pretty hip version of event tourism was flying under the radar for a long time but made it big in recent years: eSports Tourism. Fans of Starcraft II, League of Legends, CS:G0 or Counter-Strike know what we are talking about. eSports events fill entire football stadiums. Latest destination: Genting in Malaysia. From January 23 to 28 the Arena of Stars at Resorts World Genting played host to 16 of the world’s best Dota 2 teams as they battled for a prize pool of whooping US$400,000.

Event tourism eSports Genting
eSports tourism is on the rise. Newest destination: Genting, Malaysia

One of the major driving forces behind this industry is the eSport Company Turtle Entertainment – organizer of events such as “Intel Extreme Masters” in Katowice (Poland, 2014) and “ESL One” in Frankfurt (Germany, 2015). The event at the Genting Arena of Stars was sold out – all 6,000 tickets gone within just 30 days of sale.

Who was coming? Predominately young digital natives, 16 to 26 years old and male. They are the prime target when it comes to eSports tourism. These customers are technology affine and as passionate about gaming as their parents were about U2. It is the 21st century version of social activity. Instead of going to the football stadium to watch Arsenal vs. Liverpool, kids fill an arena as big as Anfield to follow a battle between Fnatic and DC Dota2. Example: ESL One in Frankfurt (Germany) had an attendance of 52,000 people while the League of Legends World Final in Seoul (Korea) saw 45,000 fans filling the Sangam Stadium.

Genting is a Malaysian hill resort at an elevation of 1,740 metres (5,710 ft), one hour away from Kuala Lumpur. Turtle Entertainment did run this ESL One eSports event in the Genting Arena of Stars, part of a large casino chain with resorts and hotels.

Event tourism eSports Lanxess Arena
ESL One in Cologne 2015 at Lanxess Arena

Event tourism eSports. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | Read more about Event Tourism here. Header image source: RedBull.