Caribbean: Governments from Mexico to the Dominican Republic are tapping into emergency funds to clean up the stinking, rotting seaweed (sargassum) that has landed on popular tourist beaches in the Caribbean. The stench and accompanying biting sand flies have caused many travelers to cut holiday plans short. Tourists should be able to enjoy relatively scent-free vacations again soon.
Australia: At least two separate sexual assaults, one against a Swedish tourist, have been linked to the same man in Melbourne's inner city district of Richmond, authorities said. The perpetrator is described as a white male, about20 years old, with medium build and short light brown or blond hair. He also was seen fleeing the scene of the second attack on Manton Street in a white car. Tourists should use caution in the area, especially while the rapist has yet to be captured.
France: At least 68 people have drowned swimming in the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans this summer, with 13 of those deaths along the Riviera, prompting authorities to issue warnings about the risks associated with sudden and often unpredictable and changing sea conditions. Officials reported that sudden changes in wind heighten potential for danger; visitors are urged to be aware of the tide schedule at each beach and to swim near aid stations, avoiding activity in the water in the early mornings and evenings.
New Zealand: Tourists hoping to rent vehicles while visiting may soon be asked to undergo additional record checks and competency testing before taking the automobiles out on the road. At least 25 companies have signed on to an optional "code of practice" that serves to increase the safety of tourist drivers. In addition to driver screenings, many rental agencies will provide road information for visitors.
Sri Lanka: Parliamentary elections are slated for Aug. 17 and with the elections come warnings of potential for unpredictable and even violent protests. Violence has occurred during past political campaigns, and the U.S. State Department advises travelers to keep up to date with local news media and to avoid political rallies and demonstrations.
Compiled from news services and travel sources. For updates, check with the State Department at 888-407-4747, www.travel.state.gov.
Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison are freelance reporters.