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The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

Travel advisories for the U.S. and Atlanta

Wonderliv Travel
Hartsfield Jackson Airport

As Americans, we have been led to believe that our country is thought to be universally desirable by foreigners that are quite envious of our nation’s beautiful scenery, economic prowess and democratic system. 

From the time we are young, it is taught to us that many people in the world who are not Americans want to be and that being an American is a fortuitous privilege that we should be grateful for. 

While I am a proud member of this nation, which has served as a beacon of freedom and opportunity for many who have come to it. Our nation is no longer as universally desirable as it once was, a fact that can clearly be seen in the way that attitudes of other nations about their citizens traveling here have changed.

Many problems in America have run amuck. We now have a much higher proportion of gun violence and poverty than other nations of similar industrial capacity. Additionally, The U.S. has been plagued by mass shootings in the last decade and it is an epicenter of terrorist attacks from both domestic and international terrorists. 

Although it is easy to keep the rose-colored view that we are an outstanding nation to be proud of due to its extensive prosperity, perhaps this view is a bit outdated and out of touch with reality. This is evidenced by the fact that multitudes of countries have issued travel advisories to their citizens that plan to travel to the United States, warning of a variety of threats that are heightened in the U.S. that are generally not a major concern in their country.

Countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel and France have informed their citizens to take precautionary measures and to stay aware of their surroundings when visiting the U.S.. The general theme of these messages being, the United States is more violent than your home country. Be prepared to take precautions that you might not have to take at home.

The worry these nations have is regarding the alarming rate of gun violence. This fear is evidenced by the fact that both Japan and New Zealand have specific guidelines for what their citizens should do in the event they are confronted with an active shooter situation. 

New Zealand provides an “active shooter” pamphlet to travelers bound to the U.S., and Japan has created a three-step plan for its citizens in a shooter situation.

The guidelines aforementioned instruct Japanese citizens to: “Find security exits in a new place and have an evacuation plan. Hide in a room and barricade the door using heavy furniture. Keep quiet and mute cell phones.”

Interestingly enough, France has issued advisories to citizens traveling to Atlanta, warning them to remain aware downtown, avoid isolated areas and travel only by taxi at night. 

Why Atlanta of all places? Are the problems faced here really that bad?

The advisory to take a taxi implies that the public transit and public rail system in Atlanta is unsafe. The idea that the public transport in Georgia’s state capital is unsafe has long been used to prevent the expansion of it to the city’s ever-growing metropolitan area. 

It is unclear what data the French are basing this advice on, but it coincides with long-held beliefs of Georgia residents that MARTA is sketchy. 

“Having MARTA increases the chances of crime,” said an anonymous Atlanta resident in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The criminals can get off the train and break into your home and get back onto the train. I don’t think that’s as likely to happen on buses, where they have to walk past the driver to get on board.”

However, there is no clear evidence that public transport, including MARTA, in Atlanta is unsafe. In a 1996 study, Theodore Postier examined the rates of 12 different crimes in and around the Kensington and Indian Creek stations. 

He found that MARTA’s expansion to these areas had very little effect on crime. While the merit of the advisory of the French to not use public transport is questionable, there are very real problems in Atlanta that makes it understandable as to why France would be concerned for its travelers. 

One such problem is that Atlanta has been coined as the sex trafficking capital of the U.S. and the data supports the labeling of it as such. Sex trafficking rates are very high in Atlanta and its surrounding areas. 

Tourists should be concerned by the fact that the airport they are likely to arrive at, Hartsfield-Jackson, is a central hub for many sex trafficking operations. In a 2014 study conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, it was found that 35% of those trafficked in Georgia are non-U.S. citizens.

This fact should be of obvious concern to travelers and is a problem that must be addressed. Remediating this issue of utmost concern could work to put Georgia, and the U.S. as a whole, on a better path to be seen as an ideal travel location for foreign nationals, as it once was.


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