Travel: Murder in Miami and how to avoid it

HOW MANY tourist deaths will it take to convince the Miami authorities that something must be done to protect visitors leaving the city's airport? Last weekend's brutal murder of a 39-year-old German woman who lost her way just after leaving the airport is the latest in a series of attacks. Jet-lagged tourists fresh off the plane with traveller's cheques and credit cards are obviously seen as easy prey.

There are simple but effective measures that Miami's authorities could take immediately to safeguard visitors. First, all arriving tourists should be warned that on leaving the airport in a hired car they run the risk of attack. Available with this warning should be a large-scale map showing which way travellers should drive to their chosen destination.

Second, the signposting on and around the airport should be improved dramatically - at present there are no signposts at all. When I drove out of Miami airport earlier this year, I immediately got lost - it is almost impossible to find your way (particularly if you arrive after dark). I had the advantage of being aware of the dangers, not only of getting lost, but also of betraying the fact that I was lost.

I consulted the map surreptitiously; I did not stop or linger in dubious areas; even though I did not know where I was, I just kept going.

If someone had tried to drive into me, I would have attempted to keep driving because I have heard that 'accidents' are a common way of initiating a robbery. Had someone attempted to rob me - especially if they had a gun - I would have handed over anything they wanted.

Refusing to co-operate provides attackers with a good excuse for shooting you. It may be inconvenient to lose your money and credit cards, but not as inconvenient as getting killed.

Until the Miami tourist office or whoever is responsible takes action to inform and assist arriving visitors, the deaths will continue. British tour operators and airlines - and the Foreign Office - should exert pressure to ensure that changes are made as soon as possible.

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