A growing number of Americans are heading overseas for vacation, and the State Department wants to make sure they stay safe.

The department recently added sections on tourism safety to all the country pages at its travel website, travel.state.gov. The information touches on tourism infrastructure and the ability of a country to provide emergency services to visitors, among other topics.

The website also has new information devoted to adventure travel, which appears in the section that offers tips for travelers with special concerns, such as LGBTI and female travelers.

The country page on Costa Rica, for instance, notes that some popular beaches have riptides, that theft and pickpocketing are the most common crimes targeting U.S. citizens and that 911 is the number to call to report a crime. It goes on to say that three volcanoes have become more active in recent years.

The Costa Rica page also includes this warning under an “adventure sports” label: “Some tour operators take risks, and government regulation and oversight of firms that organize sporting activities may not always adhere to international standards and best practices. U.S. citizens have died in Costa Rica while participating in adventure sports.”

The general information on adventure travel (not country-specific) encourages research ahead of any activity. Among the tips: Know the company that is guiding the activity, because businesses often determine their own safety protocols.

The changes to the website were spurred by the growth of international travel and the “new, and sometimes riskier, forms of tourism” that citizens can engage in, according to an e-mail from a State Department spokesperson.

I’ve always been a fan of travel.state.gov. The information may seem dire, but knowledge and caution can sometimes save the day.

 

Contact Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com; follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.