Every year, we hear some heartbreaking and alarming incidents about things going horribly wrong with innocent people who were just enjoying a vacation overseas. The question is, how safe is foreign travel, and particularly travel to developing countries? Let's try to put things in perspective and we are very outspoken about this:


Every occasion of petty theft, robbery or kidnapping is one too many! 


But let's also put safety into perspective. The rate of homicides in Washington DC at a population of less than 1,000,000 inhabitants was at its top in the 1990, close to 500 killings per year! Thank Goodness it has gone down to less than 200, but still the numbers are unacceptably high, in fact, much higher than the horrible massacre recently, in Kenya! And yet, THE USA GOVERNMENT NOR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT HAS DECLARED Washington DC a safety alert area. I personally lived and worked there for years and never felt unsafe.


Safety has 2 elements:


Statistical risk of an incident to take place;


Your personal perception of concern.


Some of the operational risks of travel to developing countries include:


Incidents involving wild animals (snake bites, alligator attacks, electric eel, large predators, etc.);


Diseases (malaria, infections);


Transportation accidents.


With all the publicity about terrorism, there is a worldwide fear for terrorism, and yet, since 9/11 2001, less than 3000 people have been killed buy terrorism in the USA, which is in the realm of 250 per year. Annually, in the USA, 50,000 people are killed in traffic. And yet many people are far more concerned about safety from terrorism than from traffic.


As a corporation, we can't give you advise on safety, but we can give you some perspective, while stressing that you as a traveler should judge for yourself.


Risk statistics are always difficult to interpret. Should one determine the risk as the number of incidents per person, or per visitor day?

Then there is the perception of risk. Just look at the figures: The USA worries about terrorist attacks. During 9/11, less that 3000 people were killed. Horrible? Absolutely! And yet, every year more than 33,000 people are killed in traffic accidents in the USA.


If we look at the statistics ever since, since 2001, and average of 150 people per year have been killed (the only ones being the 9/11 victims averaged over the following years) versus the yearly tens of thousands traffic fatalities. It is safe to assume that in developing countries, the likeliness for you to get involved in a traffic accident, is far greater than you getting kidnapped or robbed at gunpoint. So, the greatest safety risk you run during your vacation anywhere in the world, including developing countries, is traffic accidents.


We at Ecotravel take safety very seriously and we have taken all the measures we can think off, but the options of a tour operators are subject to the laws of each country and we can't stress enough that you should always be more alert at your surroundings when you are traveling than when you are at home, because you are in unfamiliar circumstances and subject to different customs and local traffic conditions.


To show how local conditions effect safety, just look at one of the safest countries in the world: The Netherlands, right? But the country is teeming with cyclists who are always in a hurry and don't like to break for anything, even not for foreign visitors. If you are in the way of a cyclist, you may hear an angry ringing of a bell if you are lucky, but it also may happen that an unlucky very angry Dutch cyclist bumps right into unlucky you, just because you did not quite understand the local traffic conditions and habits. Reading about the traffic conditions before visiting a country is always a good idea, and particularly the first few days, watch the traffic patterns.


Again, we can't make your choices regarding safety. We just gave you some considerations to put the concept of safety in perspective. You may be interested in reading our "Travel do's and Don'ts".


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National Parks Tours Worldwide is a brand name of the World Institute for Conservation & Environment, registered in the Netherlands with headquarters in the USA, a social responsibility and conservation company.