The US tells prospective visitors to "reconsider travel" to Burundi due to crime and armed conflict.
Popular destinations for US travelers such as Mexico, France and the United Kingdom register a 2, "exercise increased caution", while countries including Cuba, Turkey, and Russian Federation have been given level 3, "reconsider travel". "I personally was exhausted of explaining the difference between a travel warning and a travel alert, even to some of my colleagues", she said.
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.
It continued that the Americans should also avoid travelling to the Azad Kashmir area as "Indian and Pakistani military forces periodically exchange gun and artillery fire across the LoC". "Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities", it said. In the past, there have been large-scale terrorist attacks resulting in hundreds of casualties.
How much travel advisories issued by the United States (US) affect the flow of American tourists to India?
The State Department also issues specific alerts, such as a demonstration, a hurricane, or a terrorist incident alert.
How does the rest of the world rank?
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Besides Malaysia, Canada and Australia, other countries in the same category include Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, Kazakhstan, and New Zealand.
North Korea is also level four, with the additional restriction that United States law prohibits American travelers from using their passports there, effectively banning visits. The new rankings, found on travel.state.gov, are applied to every country, even Antarctica.
Officials insisted the change was to make advice clearer to U.S. travelers, but the travel warning system has always been controversial and often offends foreign capitals.
"Sometimes our various documents were not readily understood", Bernier-Toth said.
The US Department of State wants to provide travellers with clear, timely, and reliable information. Turkey, Russia and Venezuela are considered level 3.
It also added that the USA government has "limited ability" to provide emergency services to its citizens in rural areas of eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal, where Maoist extremist groups are present, since they require special authorization to visit.
Some countries have complained in the past that warnings exaggerate dangers and damage tourism, or suspect they have been subjected to a U.S. diplomatic rebuke.