It seems reasonable to discourage travel to Myanmar because of human rights abuses there. Or the Galapagos Islands because of their ecological fragility.
But why would one of the most respected travel promotion and guidebook companies tell people to stay away from the state of Missouri?
That’s what Fodor’s is doing with its No List 2018, which lists Missouri as one of the top 10 places in the world for travelers to avoid.
“The Show-Me State is full of wonders that belong on anyone’s travel bucket list,” Fodor’s says in explaining why Missouri came in at No. 7.
“It’s home to breathtaking limestone caverns, the Budweiser Clydesdales, Kansas City-style BBQ, great jazz, the Silver Dollar City Amusement Park, and even a museum that purports to house the holy finger of John the Baptist.
“Unfortunately,” the guide continues, “Missouri is also the place where SB 43 was passed making it more difficult to sue employers for discrimination, a state representative argued that homosexuals weren’t human beings, a tourist who got lost and ran out of gas was later found murdered in his jail cell without ever being put under arrest, and two men were hunted down and shot on suspicion of being Muslim on the outskirts of Kansas City. And that’s just in 2017.”
That last one was a reference to the fatal shooting of one Indian man and the wounding of another at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, which we know is in Kansas, not Missouri.
Fodor’s list of reasons to avoid Missouri echoes concerns of the NAACP, which last summer also discouraged travel to the state. Missouri chapter head Nimrod Chapel Jr. told Fodor’s that Missouri has “a separate standard of laws that are only applicable to some people,” including people of color, women, the disabled, senior citizens, foreigners and people of faith.
Chapel said the way laws are enforced in Missouri is discriminatory.
“Not everyone dies after an encounter with law enforcement, and we wouldn’t suggest that,” Chapel said in a reference to the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. “But there (are) so many negative outcomes that would indicate that there’s some bias in the way that their laws are enforced that we think that people have to be aware of the danger and, you know, decide for themselves.”
No. 10 on Fodor’s list is Cuba because all the bureaucratic restrictions make it difficult to embrace the island’s true character. And then there’s that mysterious audio weapon phenomenon.
No. 9 is the Great Wall of China for its fragility and the city of Beijing for its densely polluted air.
The nation of Honduras is No. 8 because of its high murder rate, particularly victimizing the LGBT community.
Mount Everest made the list at No. 6 because it is dangerous and is littered with trash and bodies.
No. 5 of the places to shun is Myanmar, the Asian country convulsed by human rights violations aimed at Rohingya, members of a local ethnic Muslim minority.
Coming in at No. 4 is Ao Phang Nga National Park in Thailand, the beauty of which is threatened by pollution and litter.
Third in the places to avoid this year is the Taj Mahal in India, for purely practical reasons. It is scheduled to undergo a mudpack treatment this spring to remove discolorations. It just won’t be so romantic covered in mud.
No. 2 is a catch-all category. Basically, Fodor says, you should avoid places that don’t want you, such as Venice and Amsterdam, where the local populations are dwarfed by tourists.
And topping the stay-away list is the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador because of their ecological fragility. A tourist was caught trying to smuggle four iguanas out in his luggage.