United States updates travel advisory; puts India at level 2

The State Department has a new travel advisory system for ranking countries’ safety levels

Under the new rankings, level 1, the lowest advisory, signals a need to "exercise normal precautions" in places where there is no more than the usual risk involved in worldwide travel.

The United States Administration of President Donald Trump has warned its citizens to exercise maximum caution while traveling to India due to a spurt in crime and terrorism.

Level Four is for countries with a "greater likelihood of life-threatening risks" in which the USA government may be very limited in its ability to help.

The UK, France and China were included in Level 2 - Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.

This category includes countries like Iran, North Korea, Iraq and Syria.

But each warning is accompanied by a country page on the travel.state.gov website, explaining what specific threats have been identified and why the advice has been given.

Some countries have complained in the past that warnings exaggerate dangers and damage tourism, or suspect they have been subjected to a USA diplomatic rebuke. It has also asked citizens not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir while in India.

Malaysia is now ranked among the safest nations in a new travel advisory issued by the United States.

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"There's still a collaborative process that involves our security experts, the Intel community, host governments, our embassies and consulates, the information that they feed to us we then assess and determine how we are going to rank a country".

One country's advisory level that raised questions was Cuba, which now sits at Level 3.

Now every country has a travel advisory based on this system, which has replaced all the previous such advisories. This stems from the recent update of how the US Department of State shares information with US travellers on January 10th.

"This is the biggest overhaul that we've done in a very, very long time", after some tinkering with language a decade ago, she said.

Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey are at Level 3.

Meanwhile, alerts, such as hurricane warnings, demonstration alerts and other considerations, will continue to be released from the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. According to Michelle Bernier-Toth, Bureau of Consular Affairs acting deputy assistant secretary for overseas citizens services at the state department, the change came about about because travelers found the previous system hard to understand.

"We wanted it to be an easier to understand system", Risch said.

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