How to survive in South Africa (II)

The US State Department's advice to American fans travelling to the World Cup

The following is an extract from the travel alert on South Africa issued by the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, May 25 2010:

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in South Africa to safety and security issues related to the FIFA World Cup taking place in nine cities across the country from June 11 to July 11, 2010.  This travel alert expires July 31, 2010.  Full information about the World Cup for American visitors is available on the U.S. Mission to South Africa's dedicated World Cup website.

TERRORISM:  Large-scale public events like the World Cup may present a wide range of attractive targets for terrorists.  There is a heightened risk that extremist groups will conduct terrorist acts within South Africa in the near future.  While a number of terrorist threats against the World Cup in South Africa have appeared in the media in recent weeks and months, the U.S. Government has no information on any specific, credible threat of attack that any individual or group is planning to coincide with the tournament. In the event the U.S. Government receives information of any specific and credible threat, the Department of State will provide information on that threat to the public immediately through an updated Travel Alert or Travel Warning.  All USC citizens in or traveling to South Africa are urged to register with the U.S. Mission to South Africa in order to receive these alerts as quickly as possible.

CRIME: The vast majority of visitors complete their travels in South Africa without problems; however, visitors should be aware that criminal activity, including violent crime, is prevalent throughout the country.  Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times, looking out for your own personal security.  While driving, keep doors locked and windows closed, avoid having purses, phones, bags and luggage in plain view, and when stopping at intersections at night or in isolated locations, leave enough space in front of your vehicle for a quick exit.  Be wary of street vendors at traffic lights, planted obstacles and staged "accidents" that may be traps for unsuspecting motorists.  Do not stop for cars with flashing lights unless they are clearly marked as police or emergency service vehicles.  Park your car in secure, gated parking lots or garages wherever possible, and do not leave bags or valuables in plain view.  Travellers to South Africa should avoid carrying or displaying expensive items or wearing eye-catching jewelry, stay in a group, and avoid walking at night.  Keep a photocopy of your passport with you, leaving the original in a hotel safe or other secure location.  Lost or stolen passports should be reported to the local police and nearest U.S. Consulate.

PUBLIC DISTURBANCES:  Organized or wildcat labor actions and protests in poorer communities against shortfalls in public services may occur during the World Cup.  While localized and normally well away from typical tourist destinations, these disturbances can develop quickly and unpredictably, sometimes turning violent.  Use caution and avoid any areas where protests, demonstrations or other public disturbances are taking place. 

IMMIGRATION, CUSTOMS, PUBLIC HEALTH:  Scrutiny of foreign travelers arriving at South African ports of entry will be tightened during the World Cup.  U.S. citizens should ensure they have two blank pages marked "Visas" in their passports as required for South African entry formalities.  Those travelers with criminal records should consult the nearest South African Consulate or the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C., before traveling.  Questions about carrying firearms or other unusual items into the country may also be directed to the nearest South African embassy or consulate.  Any traveler coming from or passing through the so-called "yellow fever belt" of Africa and South America must carry certification of having received a yellow fever vaccination upon entry into South Africa. The yellow fever belt is defined to include the following countries/territories:

Africa:  Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.

South America:  Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, and Suriname.

LODGING:  Extreme shortages of hotel rooms are likely during the World Cup, particularly in the smaller World Cup host cities including Bloemfontein, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, and Rustenburg.  Visitors are urged to book rooms well in advance.  See the FIFA 2010 World Cup Fan Guide for commercial accommodation services covering all World Cup host cities.  Assistance with last-minute accommodation needs can also be obtained by calling South Africa Tourism at 087-803-INFO (4636), or from outside South Africa at 27-87-803-4636 (available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day).

TRANSPORTATION:  While South Africa has adequate and generally safe intercity air and surface transportation including planes, buses, and trains, public transportation within cities is poorly developed and not nearly up to U.S. standards.  Travelers are advised to use rental cars or book private transport from one of the many commercial operations available.  While park-and-ride and park-and-walk facilities are being established around all 10 World Cup stadiums, space for parked cars is expected to be extremely limited.  The website Find Your Way, operated by the South African Department of Transport and still under construction as of mid-May, promises to provide useful transportation-related information in time for the opening of the tournament.  Assistance with transportation can also be obtained by calling South Africa Tourism at 087-803-INFO (4636), or, from outside South Africa, at 27-87-803-4636 (available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day).

Source: US Department of State, Travel.State.Gov, May 25 2010

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