Publication Gives Tips on Down Side of Travel

From Associated Press

Be prepared to explain why you are carrying a camera when visiting Ethiopia, don't travel in the Soviet Union unless you are in good health, and be sure to have a visa upon arrival in India or you'll find yourself on the next plane out, regardless of its destination.

"Improper sexual relations" with Chinese citizens are verboten, and if you are of criminal inclination, never take illegal drugs into Malaysia, where traffickers face a mandatory death sentence.

So advises World Status Map, a slick bimonthly publication that offers such travel advisories and disease warnings below its orange fold-up map, which colors war zones and other danger spots in red.

Much of the information comes from the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control, but publisher Earl W. May of Fairfax says he uses more than 150 other sources, including the World Health Organization, the United Nations, world governments and news services.

May said in a telephone interview that the idea grew out of his brother's world travels. May said he offered to find out about civil unrest and disease in various hot spots for his brother, who worked for a company that drilled oil around the world.

Desk for Each Country

He found there was a State Department desk officer for each country. "Theoretically, I would have to make 200 calls, and half the time they weren't at the desk," he said.

He decided there was a need for a publication to pull all of the available information together.

The first World Status Map, published by May's WSM Publishing Co. in Merrifield, came out in 1983. Since then, May said, his subscription list has grown to more than 2,000 travel agents, individuals, corporations and universities.

The most recent map warns that "detention and heavy fines have been imposed on visitors engaging in improper sexual relations with Chinese citizens."

May is not sure what those banned relations are.

Despite the unrest in China, "it probably is a very safe country right now" for travelers, he said. "China is probably doing all they can to get those hundreds of thousands of tourists back that they lost," he said.

No Pictures, Please

Binoculars, cameras and video equipment should not be taken into Ethiopia, which is ruled by a military government fighting rebels in the northern provinces of Eritrea and Tigre.

"In many of these countries you are at great risk if you take a picture of any building that they consider important to the government or the military," he said.

If you are ill, a likely way to feel worse is to travel in the Soviet Union, May said. "It has to do with the level of medication and hospital services available," he said.

May also advised against taking alcoholic beverages, even the tiny sample bottles offered by airlines, into Kuwait.

"It's just your basic dry country," he said. "When you arrive, if you don't declare with a customs agent that you have liquor, you are subject to arrest if they find it on you." Other Islamic countries have similar restrictions.

For anyone planning a trip to Europe this summer, it's a green light with orange all the way across the continent on the latest issue of the map. There is this for visitors coming the other way, however: A warning that the United States is jailing visitors who arrive with AIDS unless a waiver has been obtained in advance.

A one-year subscription to the World Status Map costs $36.

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