ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lists. The internet is filled with lists that circulate through emails, and New Mexico or Albuquerque are typically somewhere at the bottom.
The latest list to land in my in-box ranks cities around the globe based on how safe they are for tourists to visit, and again, Albuquerque is at the bottom, grouped among the most dangerous cities in the world and ranking just above Aleppo in war-torn Syria and below Kandahar, Afghanistan; Damascus, Syria; and Baghdad.
Given that this began circulating in early April, I suspect it could be an April Fools’ joke or maybe the product of some teenagers in a Romanian basement.
We were the only city in the United States to score in the lower third for tourist safety globally. Yes, we have a crime problem. But the list doesn’t consider only crime as a factor in deciding how dangerous a city might be to visit.
It takes into consideration potential terrorism, natural disasters, pickpockets, scams, muggings and the safety of transportation.
Now, I’m the first to admit that Albuquerque has its problems. But natural disasters?
The threat of natural disasters in Albuquerque, according to the list, is MEDIUM because “when outdoors, always use a lot of sunscreens” because of the threat of getting a sunburn.
The danger of sunburn in Albuquerque is due to the city’s elevation, but that is apparently not the case in the “Mile High City” of Denver, which scored LOW for natural disasters, with no mention of the need for sunscreen or snow shovels during winter visits.
Denver scored much better than Albuquerque, finishing in the middle tier for tourist safety, despite criticism of its traffic and terrible drivers.
Overall, Juárez was just ahead of Albuquerque for tourist safety. The authors apparently have missed the drug cartel wars that have claimed thousands of lives.
Juárez was ranked MEDIUM for the threat of natural disasters, but that score seems questionable, because the authors cite the danger for tourists in Juárez of “drowning in the Pacific Ocean.”
I can state with some authority that the chances of drowning in the Pacific Ocean while visiting Juárez are absolutely zero.
Kandahar also scored MEDIUM on the natural disaster threat scale because of earthquakes, flooding, drought, landslides and avalanches. In the same paragraph the writers warn to always check on natural disasters “before visiting Kabul.”
Hence my concern that the list is the product of an April Fools’ joke or some Romanian teenagers in need of a geography lesson.
The tourist safety rankings come from a website developed by six people who say they are full-time travelers with a goal to travel as much as possible. They developed the website to help to pay for their travels by giving folks advice on traveling.
They might check in with those kids in a Romanian basement who might have a map.
If you want to see the list online, go here: www.travelsafe-abroad.com/cities/
Albuquerque ranks a MEDIUM on the threat of terrorism. How they came to this conclusion is something of a mystery.
“Excluding isolated mass shootings, Albuquerque hasn’t been the target of any terrorist attacks recently, but the attacks shouldn’t be ruled out,” according to our tourist advisers.
I am not sure what “mass shootings” the authors are referring to.
I don’t want to make light of our city’s very real violent crime problem, but I don’t recall any mass shootings at a local grocery store, movie theater or church in the 45 years I’ve been covering crime in Albuquerque similar to the ones we have seen around the country in recent years.
Orlando, Florida, is ranked much safer than Albuquerque. The authors don’t mention the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, in which 49 people were killed and 53 wounded.
El Paso is also ranked higher for tourist safety than Albuquerque, but the authors fail to mention the 2019 Walmart shooting in which 23 people were killed and 23 wounded.
Both scored LOW for terrorist threats, but Albuquerque is said to have isolated “mass shootings.”
Tehran, Iran, which was ranked safer than Albuquerque, scored MEDIUM when it came to terrorist threats to tourists.
The authors wrote, “Terrorist attacks are very likely to happen in Iran. Attacks could happen anywhere and there have been reports that several bombings have taken place. Be vigilant in Iran, since there is a threat of kidnapping foreign tourists in the border areas.”
Baghdad scored better than Albuquerque for tourist safety, but the terrorist threat there was HIGH: “Terrorists are very likely to try and carry out attacks in Baghdad,” the authors write.
Damascus was declared safer than Albuquerque, despite getting a ranking of HIGH for terrorist threats to tourists.
“Chances are extremely high that Damascus will be targeted by terrorists while you’re there – if you intend to go there,” the list’s authors write. “There have been many terrorist attacks already.”
But you will be glad to know that the threat of getting mugged in Damascus is LOW.
According to the creators of the list, “Violent crimes in Damascus do exist but are not too common, again, because the country is a war zone, and every day is a fight for survival.”
Albuquerque gets a MEDIUM for the threat of muggings to tourists.
“You should be careful when it comes to violent crime in Albuquerque. Even though they mostly have nothing to do with tourists,” the list creators said.
Damascus ranks in the middle third on the safety list for tourists, while Albuquerque is in the lower third among the most dangerous cities for tourists to visit.
If this isn’t an April Fools’ joke by some travel insurance types or some kids in a basement doing a disinformation project for a high school class, then I think our tourism folks at the city and the state have some work to do.
Meanwhile, I have to go buy some sunscreen.
UpFront is a regular Journal news and opinion column.