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World

Overseas travel warnings about USA mount

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BERLIN — Government travel advisories are common for war-torn, disease-ravaged nations, but a growing number of countries are warning their citizens about taking trips to the United States.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, France,United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Germany are among those urging caution to U.S.-bound travelers. The concerns include mass shootings, police violence, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT attitudes and the Zika virus.

While it is too soon to determine if the warnings are hurting U.S. tourism, the warnings tarnish the image the U.S. promotes abroad of a country that prides itself on being a welcoming society and bastion of democracy.

“People understand that there is a range of things to do and iconic things to see in the (United) States,” said Tom Buncle, managing director of the Yellow Railroad, an international tourism consultancy in Scotland. “But all of the warnings that come from specific instances add up and can potentially erode the positive image of the U.S.”

Tourism consultant Buncle said the warnings about gays and Muslims may deter some from taking U.S. vacations. “If you are in any of those groups, … you might feel threatened because of the color of your skin or sexual orientation,” he said.

Another big turnoff is gun violence. “America has surprised a lot of the world, especially the Europeans, because of all the mass shootings and the attitudes on gun control, or lack of it,” Buncle said.

Foreign tourism to the U.S. is lucrative. An estimated 77 million foreigners visited the United States last year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. They contributed $218 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the State Department.

Countries such as the U.K. have added the U.S. — the state of Florida in particular — to the list of countries where travelers face a “moderate risk” of catching the Zika virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a warning this month about an outbreak of the virus in a Florida county north of Miami from local mosquitoes. In Texas, the first Zika-related death of a baby was reported Tuesday. – READ MORE

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