Travel: Have a nice stay

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The Independent Travel
THE SPATE of attacks earlier this year on European tourists arriving in Miami led to ferocious criticism of the Florida authorities for failing to do enough to warn holidaymakers of the dangers. It is pleasing, therefore, to report that the criticism has been taken to heart. Passengers arriving in Miami are now presented with a sheaf of leaflets that offer rather too dramatic a warning. 'They frightened the life out of me; I just wanted to get straight back on the plane to London,' reports a recent traveller.

A warning notice from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce reads less like a tourist information leaflet than the plot for a Hitchcock movie ('In the rare event that you suspect you are being followed, go to the nearest well- lighted public area'). Other advice includes the suggestion that you should not pick up hitchhikers (sure, in between checking the rearview mirror for psychopaths, picking up hitchhikers will be the first thing on your mind).

The dangers to tourists do not just come from the likes of Norman Bates. There is detailed information on how to avoid skin cancer. And you are not even safe using the telephone: 'Greater Miami usually has sunny weather, but thunderstorms do occur. In the event of lightning, do not talk on the telephone, bathe or shower.' What can happen to you in the bath during a thunderstorm, for goodness sake? The mind boggles. Touchingly, the notice ends with the rather desperate plea: 'Please enjoy your stay in Greater Miami]'