Do we need an International Travelers Bill of Rights?

One moment, 8-year-old Brent Midlock was swimming in a shallow saltwater pool at an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The next, he was gone.

“It’s something I think about every day,” says his mother, Nancy Midlock. Her son had been sucked into an open drainage pipe, his shoulder and elbows violently dislocated by the force of the water. His body was recovered a day later.

Midlock, a business teacher from Shorewood, Ill., says that if she had known about the lack of lifeguards and medical facilities at the resort, she never would have booked that tragic vacation in 2003.

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Midlock’s loss has led to the introduction of the International Travelers Bill of Rights, new bipartisan legislation in Congress that would require online travel agencies to disclose information about the potential health and safety risks associated with overseas vacation destinations marketed on their sites, including State Department warnings and information about on-site health and safety services, such as the availability of a doctor, nurse or lifeguard.

“It’s important that when consumers are booking online travel they have all the necessary information to make informed decisions,” says Greg Lemon, a spokesman for Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), the bill’s lead sponsor. He adds that if a hotel can disclose amenities such as wireless Internet and fitness facilities, there’s no reason it can’t also let guests know what medical assistance is available. “A family has the right to know if a hotel has access to critical emergency care before they book a trip,” Lemon adds.

It’s hard to imagine anyone challenging a law like this, if for no other reason than that it would seem insensitive to Midlock’s loss.

But think again.

“We believe that this bill as drafted, while well intentioned, would confuse consumers, potentially making them believe that there are dangers that may not exist, and could impose significant burdens on our companies that may not be imposed on similarly situated competitors,” says Joe Rubin, president of the Interactive Travel Services Association, which represents the major online travel agencies.

And it isn’t just online agencies that would have trouble with the legislation. Rubin says that the bill could also impose a “significant” burden on hotels and that it would be difficult to comply with the law, given the number of international hotels. “A local hotel’s policies may change from season to season, further complicating and burdening compliance for all parties,” he says.

Lisa Costello, a spokeswoman for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which represents the hotel industry, echoes Rubin’s sentiments. “Our issue really just revolves around the feasibility of providing the information required,” she says. “Our industry is simply not tracking any of the information they are seeking to capture outside the U.S. in a comprehensive way.”

The bill fails to take into account the complexities of the hotel industry, with layers of owners, franchisees and management companies, each with its own interests, she says. As a result, the proposed notification system would need to be built from the ground up. “It would be difficult to maintain in real time and would not achieve the intended goal,” she says.

I checked with the State Department, which already publishes some of the information that the bill would require. The department’s country-specific information covers general health, safety and security information, a representative told me. U.S. embassies and consulates can also provide information about medical facilities available locally, including hospitals, clinics and labs. The government doesn’t offer that information specifically regarding a hotel, though.

When I asked the department whether international visitors were demanding more detailed information about security, a representative replied, “We haven’t seen an increase in concerns being raised about the quality of the information we provide.”

Some of the supplemental information is already available from third parties. For example, a company called e-Travel Technologies offers safety information culled from various news sources, which can help travelers make a more informed decision. Late last month, the travel insurance site announced that it would enroll all its customers in the service. (Disclosure: is an underwriter of my travel blog.)

The legislation is also problematic because it affects only online merchants, who sell just a fraction of hotel accommodations (online travel agencies sell about 15 percent of rooms, and roughly the same amount are sold through hotel Web sites). International hotels are an even smaller subset of that — roughly one-quarter — according to an estimate by PhoCusWright, a travel consulting firm. Paul Ruden, a senior vice president at the American Society of Travel Agents, says that although higher-end concierge agents can offer detailed information about medical facilities, mandating it is “not realistic or viable.”

“If health considerations are a factor in an individual’s travel, the individual has obligations of her own not to simply rely on published information,” he adds. “She must disclose her specific needs early in the process and take responsibility for the ultimate decision of where to stay.”

I agree that travelers should take responsibility for their safety, but I think that the travel industry can help. Frankly, I’m surprised that a hotel can offer details about its amenities but little if anything about its medical facilities or any potential health risks involved in travel. Maybe trips should come with warning labels, and maybe this is the right legislation to make that happen.

But if such a law had been in place when Midlock booked her trip, would it have made a difference? Yes, she thinks. “I wouldn’t have chosen to take my family to Mexico,” she says.

The centrist in me agrees with the travel industry that the International Travelers Bill of Rights is an unnecessary step toward a nanny state. But the consumer advocate in me says that it doesn’t go far enough. Exempting offline travel agents and domestic hotels smacks of a compromise. Don’t we deserve to have this information about every hotel, no matter how we book it?

I will sit here and argue with myself. Meanwhile, pay close attention to health hazards when you travel — anywhere.

60 thoughts on “Do we need an International Travelers Bill of Rights?

  1. “if she had known about the lack of lifeguards and medical facilities at
    the resort, she never would have booked that tragic vacation in 2003.”

    While this story is tragic, this statement is not going to be true for most travelers.  Very few resorts, outside of high-end family-oriented places, are going to have lifeguards, whether domestic OR international.  Why should this only be a requirement for international destinations?

    And in this particular case, the lack of medical facilities would not have helped.

    If things like lifeguards or nearby hospitals are important to you, call the place you would like to book and ask!

    The main issue with this law is the sheer volume of hotels that are going to have to be contacted frequently to keep the information up-to-date (what are the proposed penalties for the information going out of date?)  What happens to the poor agency when the Nowheresville Hotel fires it’s lifeguard and there isn’t one present for the week a family happens to be there and tragedy strikes?  Since it’s hard to pursue a case in a foreign court, is the US agency now liable for the incorrect information?

    1. Sirwired wrote – is the US agency now liable for the incorrect information?

      From a practical standpoint, no.  From a litigation standpoint, it is a crap shoot and the agency almost certainly would be held at least partially liable if such another tragedy were to occur.  If an agency can be sued successfully by parents of an 18 year old, who, after  becoming very intoxicated, attempted to dive into a resort hotel from the third floor walkway railing and missed, then indeed presence of such legislation bodes ill for another incident such as this.

      1. I wonder if the US State Department should now be issuing warnings to foreigners to STOP visiting Walmart during Black Friday for fear of being trampled to death or getting pepper-sprayed?

    2. AMEN!  If the purpose of this bill was to PREVENT people from travelling, it just might make that possible.  We all know the State Department warnings are far too vague and far-reaching (the “border towns” are 1600 miles away from Cancun, but folks think the cartels are there, because its “Mexico”).  Clients also read, and do not understand the medical advice – assuming they MUST have all those shots regularly suggested, rather than asking their doctor.  This will just add to the general confusion and freak out those already prone to that response.  What a nightmare!

      1. “(the “border towns” are 1600 miles away from Cancun, but folks think the cartels are there, because its “Mexico””

        Right, because nothing bad is happening in Tijuana (another drug tunnel found) or Juarez (possibly the murder capital of the world)

        1. Ummm… Tijuana and Juarez are border towns.
          We took a 1200 mile road trip to southern/central Mexico a few motnhs back and felt (and were) perfectly safe. Mexico is a tourist’s paradise — beautiful, varied, friendly, and inexpensive — but the travel industry is withering on the vine because people can’t tell Ciudad Juarez from Ciudad de Mexico or Puerto Penasco from Puerto Escondido.

          Why can’t we educate ourselves about our neighbors the way Europeans do?

          1. Sorry, I misread what Lindabator was trying to say.Regardless, the cartels are ‘working’ throughout Mexico, and the killings are happening everywhere. They’ve been targeting tourist locations more and more, and it’s only a matter of time before they massacre a bunch of people on vacation.

          2. And I live just North of Detroit – you don’t think I may have an occasional problem with crime here?  The problem with the State Department is their warnings are broad brush strokes for an entire COUNTRY, when certain areas are not affected – and not detailed enough for the average traveller to make an informed decision.  If the EU looked at crime in Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, LA or NYC, they could EASILY use that as an excuse to say travel here is far too dangerous.  But how exactly does that decision affect someone travelling to Fargo to visit long-distant relatives?

        2. So that stops your vacation to CANCUN?  Again – my point is made clearly here.  That’s the same distance between NYC and Miami – so there are gangs in NYC, so you don’t go to Miami???  We have gangs and drug cartels here in the big cities of the US – should the EU slap a blanket warning against travel to the entire US? 

  2. First and foremost, I am so sorry for Ms. Midlock’s loss, and I don’t want to minimize it in any way. That is a horrible tragedy. That being said, I don’t think anyone worries about medical facilities and lifeguards when booking a vacation. 

    Whether there are lifeguards or not, you should ALWAYS be sure you or a trusted adult is supervising your children when they are swimming! A lifeguard wouldn’t impact my decision in any way, because I act as if there isn’t one in regard to safety. There is no excuse for trusting your or your family’s safety to a stranger.

    As far as medical facilities, I don’t really think anyone goes anywhere without having a general idea of what is available where they are travelling. My mom shattered her kneecap in Mexico when she had an accident on an ATV. Although the resort offered to send her to the nearest hospital, she returned home the next morning and chose to seek medical care here in the US. The hotel actually gave her a really good bottle of tequila for free and agreed the best decision was to tough out the pain until she got home. She went straight from the airport to the hospital. Even if there is a hospital nearby (it was a few minutes drive in my mom’s case), you don’t necessarily get the same level of care as you would in the US. I would venture a guess that everyone that travels to Mexico from the US knows this. So I don’t see why having the information available would matter.

    Additionally, just because there is a doctor or nurse at a resort, that doesn’t mean they have the same qualifications as a doctor or nurse would in the US. And there are plenty of bad doctors and nurses in the US, who is to say they wouldn’t be in another country as well?

    1. Actually medical care in Mexico can be quite good. Lots of US-educated doctors, not to mention more than a few ex-pat MDs (although whether your insurance will cover you is another story). Have heard of lots of people going to northern Mexico for dental work, where the level of care, service and technology is just as high as the US but at a fraction of the price.

      Amazing how ignorant many Americans are about our neighbors to the south.

      1. Or, you could wind up paying $10K in cash as graft to “nurses” and “police” just to get your loved one out of a hospital.

        Which is what happened to a friend of mine.

    2. My daughter’s mother-in-law shattered her wrist in Mexico. The hospital doctor wanted to mend her surgically. She chose to fly back to the US to use her trusted doctors. She showed the medical records from Mexico, which included the suggested surgery to her local doctors and they were in total agreement with everything. Although she did have trip insurance, the patient did feel more comfortable recovering at home. And judging by the experience of a friend, who broke her leg in Paris and required surgery, the medical attention overseas, including the hospital food, can be superior to that of the US.

  3. I’m generally all for things that require more disclosure, more information generally puts the user in a better position to make an informed decision..

    However, I’m not oblivious to a few concepts as well..

    #1) Information overload.. I do think there comes a point when too much information is given– and at that point, many users will simply click-thru or otherwise not make use of it..  think of the electronic licenses that appear on your screen when you’ve downloaded many software applications.. Yes, there are legal ramifications on your part by accepting these terms, but what percentage of the people read it?

    So, while I like the notion of more information– I do think that this can be overload in some cases..  I think we’d need to be very careful over the amount, content and presentation of material so that we don’t create an overload/tune-out scenario.

    #2) The other issue is one of liability.. If the online booking portal disclosed information– as is was transmitted to them or made available to them by the hotel or source directly– in keeping with the law; IF it then turned out later to be not correct or current, would the on-line portal now become liable in some fashion should a claim arise?  I see some liability issues that would need to be addressed before I’d be OK with this.

  4. If her child had been killed at an American resort, she could have sued for millions. Suing a Mexican hotel in Mexican courts with Mexican lawyers is a little trickier. By making online sites responsible for posting safety information, she would have been able to sue the company that operates the online site in American courts with American lawyers under American law and collected big time.

    1. I would not be surprised if it is American lawyers who are lobbying for this bill. They probably need a lot of new lawsuits to justify their existence.

    2. And that, Tom, is exactly the problem.  I lived in a developing country for a couple of years.  Getting reliable information on just about anything is hit or miss in less developed parts of the world.  Who exactly is liable if a hotel in Mexico, or India, or wherever lies about having a lifeguard, or a doctor on duty, or just plain embellishes the level of medical care available?  A hotel can say “excellent medical facilities are available” nearby, but when you get there, you find out it’s little more than a doctor handing out meds from a storefront.  Good luck suing the hotel in India, so do you now get to sue Travelocity for damages because they couldn’t figure out they were given false information?  If so, I have a real problem with that.

    3.  Is that what this article is all about?? Who can you sue for the most money?? When will people begin taking responsibility for themselves and their loved ones? Do we all need babysitters? Grow up out there!

  5. I voted no.
    While this story is tragic, it isn’t the hotel’s responsibility to have a doctor/nurse on staff. Does Di$ney World’s many resorts? No. The lifeguard issue…plenty of US hotels do not have lifeguards and are “swim at your own risk.” I don’t see how disclosing whether or not a hotel has lifeguards would make a difference to most people.

    Also, a little bit of personal responsibility goes a long way. If you’re naive enough to think every country in the world has the same standards and resources as the US, you shouldn’t travel internationally. 

    Mexico is a cesspool. I live close to it. I used to enjoy going down there, but no more. It is corrupt, filthy, and the only redeeming qualities are outweighed by the dangers our useless government doesn’t want to do anything about lest they “offend” Mexico.

    1. Disney actually has an extensive on-site medical facility for employees at Walt Disney World.  They also will have all employees at all their theme parks know what to do in case of emergency, with ready access to all the emergency rooms and urgent care facilities in the area.

  6. Reminds me of the bereaved mom who lobbied Congress a few years ago to have stickers placed on heavy television sets warning people that toddlers can be crushed by falling TVs. She insisted if she’d known that, if ONLY the federal government had mandated such warning labels, her own child (who’d been yanking on the cord) would still be alive. I doubt it.

    Not to sound callous, but there are risks associated with everyday life that you have to assess — and ACCEPT, up to a point. This is especially true for travel, and even more so for FOREIGN travel.

    More health-nanny laws will do nothing but increase red tape and place onerous costs on business owners who will pass them on to customers. No thanks. The intel shared by travelers using TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Business, and so on, does more for my wellbeing and safety, and that of my family, than another round of BS regulation.

  7. The one-line agency should not be burdened with this, it should be up to the hotel to have this information on their web site. A persective guest should then be able to go to that web site and get that information there. Then he/she can make a decision on the information whether they want to continue with the booking through the on-line agency.

  8. No. when in rome live like romans. Don’t expect to find America overseas. That’s why you travel, to experience something different. Otherwise, stay home.

  9. Tragic story and I truly feel for the family.

    How much of this information is not available online? Are we just getting too lazy as a society to even do our own search online now?

  10. Tough call.  I voted a qualified yes.

    The reason, if you are selling a product, you should provide info that may be of benefit to your client. e.g. “safety” if you can find it.

    I’m sorry the lady lost her child but when we used to travel with our 3 kids, we were always watching & would not have missed a kid gone missing. (not saying she was negligent, don’t know enough, so don’t pound me)

    We would have been especially careful with no lifeguard. 

    So, it’s a difficult situation & with 3rd world countries or coutries that don’t have the US’s litigiousness & believe in personal responsibility, to legislate from here on foreign business.  Impossible really.

    We have spent lots of time in Mexico & other “3rd/2nd” world countries, & all of them are in no way concerned that you were walking down the sidewalk & didn’t see the (pick one) hole, crack, tools laying around & broke your leg etc. 

    Their philosophy is, too bad, so sad, watch where your going! 

    But, again,  if a US travel company is selling a product, due diligence on what’s available with the product would make good business sense.

    I’m still not sure if yes is the right answer.  Tough call.

    1. Its only a tough call because Americans hate to actually take responsibility for their actions/decisions.  If you walk down the sidewalk and trip, why on earth is that someone else’s fault?  We’ve become a bunch of spoiled, lazy, entitled babies.

      1. Yep, totally agree.  That was my point exactly. 

        The other point was that companies, on line or not, should put info about the property, (if possible) to help people to make a informed decision.

        I’m still not sure that any legislation is merited & would likely be useless.

        I should have added, if your going to any 3rd world country, get your head out of your butt & pay attention, cause they ain’t going to worry about you.

      2. What’s worse is we think we can tell the whole world what they ought to be doing. Ha, ha, we caused the whole financial system to crash in 2008. Why would anyone think America is always right? Plain Hubris!

  11. I voted no. Mainly because it’s only targeting online travel agencies. Why should they bear the burden of collecting this information? The traveler is already online, hopefully researching hotels in the first place, that it’s only a few more clicks to search for medical facilities or check out reviews on TripAdvisor (for example). Consumers that go directly to the hotel’s website would not see the same information. As a traveler myself, I would never trust just one place for information, either.

    Other than that, I agree with most of the others that have voted no.

  12. Elliott why don’t you draft a questionnaire that can be sent by consumers to places where they are thinking of staying. Then let the individual property either answer the questions or not. That way there is no undue burden on anyone, there is not another useless law on the books and those that are concerned are provided a simple way to get answers about the property. If the property chooses not to answer then the consumer can exercise their judgement and not stay there. If they do answer then you have the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.

  13. I think it makes more sense to put time and resources into telling people that they need to educate themselves about where they are traveling to and how to go about doing so. There’s only so much laws can do. And it perpetuates the continuing trend towards externalization of responsibility, in which people think “they” should have “done something”. And then sue when things go wrong.

  14. Most countries can’t agree on basic human rights.  You want to regulate travel safety?  I haven’t had that good of an out loud laugh in a while.  Thank you.

  15. I strongly support disclosure laws.   Many of the objections I suspect are because we don’t have the full text of the proposed law in front of us.  In fact, I don’t think it goes nearly far enough. I would argue that any hotel, resort, etc. that does business in the US needs to have these disclosures.

    And to those who thinks this makes us a nanny state, they misunderstand.  The very antithesis to a nanny state is giving consumers information so that they can make an informed decison

    1. If you buy online and the company isn’t in the US, are they doing business in the US or is the person shopping on line doing business in the country where the company is located?
      Explain what you would consider disclousre laws pertaining to hotels?   

    2. With all due respect, disclosure is only effective if the information proposed is reliable and useful.  Getting reliable information on just about anything in less developed countries is a hit-or-miss proposition. If you mandate the disclosure of medical facilities available, for example, what’s to stop an unscrupulous hotel in a place like India or Mexico from giving out false information to Orbitz.  For that matter, good luck in even getting this kind of information period from a smaller hotel. 

      I haven’t seen the text of the bill, but I have a real problem with 1) barraging consumers with information that may be difficult if not impossible to verify, thus making is of dubious utility, and 2) the idea of opening up a whole Pandora’s box of litigation against American online travel agencies for information they probably have little or no control over.

    3.  …and you think that these foreign hotels/resorts/businesses, etc., will provide accurate and reliable information? What turnip truck did you just fall off?!! I have lived and worked in 3rd World Countries for most of the past 12 years. This includes active war zones. I have relied on my own research to learn how to survive and thrive in these locales. Anyone who travels outside of the U.S. should assume responsibility for themselves. Yes the U.S. has become a nanny state and our citizens have become complacent and dependent. The best advice anyone can give these fools is to grow up or stay home where you belong.

  16. There is more than enough information about the dangers of Mexico, and yet planeloads of people go every day because it is cheap, sunny and there’s a nice ocean.  A traveller’s “bill of rights” as mentioned here will only consolidate information that’s already available.

    Now, a bill of rights that caused the providers to ensure there’s a lifeguard, medical help, etc, would be different.

    However, I don’t know how that would have saved the kid in the drainage pipe…..I don’t know how it was set up but it likely needed a screen or something…..horrible.

  17. While this was a desperately tragic event, the legislation is one of the silliest suggestions I’ve seen lately. It’s not even clear from the description of the accident that the presence of a lifeguard and medical assistance would have made any difference. In any case, if the mother really cared about having a lifeguard present she would not have allowed her son to swim when she found that there wasn’t one.

    It might make sense for the online agencies to post a link to the (overly cautious) State Department travel warning pages for foreign countries, but requiring information for individual hotels is way overkill.

    It’s not a hotel’s responsibility to warn visitors about the dangers of visiting a particular country (should all Mexican or Indian hotels post warnings about traveller’s diarrhea???), it’s the visitor’s job. Equally, I don’t even expect hotels in the US, never mind abroad, to provide any access to medical care other than perhaps a list of phone numbers.

  18. This kind of legislation exists for many many years in Germany and while it doesn’t 100% protect travelers against accidents like this – this year 2 German kids drowned in illegal hotel pools in Hungary – it protects travelers against wrongs promises (“ocean view room” with no ocean in sight and so on) and also motivates travel companies to react quickly (= ban bad/unsafe hotels) to avoid further harm. Travel companies do only sell hotels they know and monitor them continuously. Work fine for decades in Germany (and AFAIK other European countries, too) – why shouldn’t it work in the USA?

  19. Mexico is not the USA.  England is not the USA.  South Africa is not the USA.  You are traveling outside of the US and should NEVER expect anything to be as you think it should be, nor should you expect our government to protect you on every safety issue.  Here in the USA there is a feeling that we don’t have to think for ourselves, that everyone else will/ must do it for us or we will sue.  

  20. >Midlock… says that if she had known about the lack of lifeguards and medical facilities at the resort, she never would have booked that tragic vacation in 2003.

    But when she got there, saw the pool with her own eyes, saw the lack of lifeguards, and decided that it was okay for her kid to swim after all?

    One of the reasons I travel abroad (especially to Mexico) is that I am tired of seeing the landscape spoiled by “Warning! Stepping off cliff may result in injury or death!” signs wherever I go. This sort of thing is ridiculous. We need to stop making other people responsible for our mistakes. Simple solution: If you plan to vacation with your kids, PLAN ON WATCHING YOUR KIDS. That’s what I do. Anyone who doesn’t realizes that PEOPLE CAN DROWN IN WATER is, sorry, an idiot.

    1. In this case, I don’t think it would’ve made any difference if the mother was watching her kid; she would’ve had to have the kid leashed to her to prevent this tragedy.  He was sucked into an open drainage pipe with what must’ve been incredible force if it dislocated the boy’s elbows and shoulders.  To me, the open drainage pipe is the issue, not whether a lifeguard or mother was watching the kid.  Medical assistance wouldn’t have been any help either.  I’d say the issue is with the hotel for having an open drainage pipe in the pool.  

      Rather than hold online agencies responsible for providing info re medical facilities (resulting in undue liability on their part), perhaps each hotel could provide that info on their site, and lacking that, the potential traveler could call the hotel.   

        1. It’s tough to tell by looking at the picture just what it is.  I’m guessing there was no pool?  That was certainly one horror show of an accident — the drain pipe suction sounds horrific. 

          1. Barbara, I got this picture from the kid’s memorial website. I suppose the parents posted it as an evidence scene (where it happened). Quote:
            Brent was violently pulled into one of three uncovered, underwater drainpipes in the little
            pool, shown above, at the resort. It pulled him in from behind, folded him in half, and compressed
            him two inches smaller then the width of his shoulders for ten feet. The Minesterio Publico used
            hydraulic “jaws of life” to remove his precious, lifeless body. 
            One of the rescuers was quoted by stating it was
            “incredible”. His little body was all bruised, scraped and cut by being dragged so violently into
            the pipe.

            So, this is not your typical 2 to 2.5 inch PVC drain pipe. These are large diameter reinforced concrete drainage pipes they use for culverts, storm drains, and sewers. Also look at the water level near the figure “8” on the right of the picture. See how high it was (dark marks) at some time.

            In other words, the kid died because he got sucked into a canal drainage NOT A SWIMMING POOL DRAIN AS YOU KNOW IT. Why he was in a canal, who knows?

        2. Just from the picture, this looks like a place that, on the face of it, would be safe to swim in. The walls are nicely constructed and the curve of the channel seems to have a decorative feel to it. I can imagine how the boy might have swum into this area quite innocently. Really a tragic event.

          I don’t think this bill will practically speaking help avoid future similar incidents. What would help is to lobby the Mexican authorities to improve the legal framework and the enforcement of safety standards for swimming areas, including this one. Poor design is a factor in many accidents, and probably was in this one too. Don’t be too quick to say that the mother wasn’t paying proper attention to her son.

  21. Irrealistic. That’s what Travel Insurance for?
    What’s your intelligence and discernment for?
    Stay home if you feel to risky to travel and don’t blame on anybody else just because you have some money and something happens to you. The International bill of rights will just profit the lawyers with frivolous lawsuits.

  22. Something to bear in mind is “who will enforce the ITBR?” it would almost certainly be a tool for litigation as opposed to an upfront protection. As with most things, travel to a foreign country is “buyer beware”. We should, instead, be heavily pushing travel insurance. While it won’t “fix” a child’s death, it can cover a lot of the costs involved like transport home.

  23. I am sorry for Ms. Midlock’s loss.  However, had she and her family opted to vacation at a location with a pool in the United States in 2003, the same thing might have happened to her son.  I recalled a rather gruesome incident in Omaha a few years ago ( and the federal law that mandated use of drain coverings.  Now that law has been changed again, requiring more pool modifications which may be impossible/unaffordable for compliance (

    Despite the new drain coverings in 2008, drownings in pools without lifeguards have occurred in the Omaha area due to causes unrelated to drain covers.  In all cases, a “no life guard on duty” signs was posted.  Parental (or lack of parental) supervision was to blame.  I did a quick check of 3 cases – none of the 3 hotels lists “no lifeguard” on their website while promoting their indoor pools.

    Omaha has excellent medical facilites not far from any point in the metro area.  Having onsite medical facilities at hotels with pools would be unduly burdensome and expensive.

    So . . . why fuss about international “safety rules” requiring information about lifeguards and medical facilities abroad when Omaha, like so many places in the U.S,. would fail those rules?  This is really an absurd piece of legislation.

  24. The US passed a law a couple of years ago requiring all pools available to the public to update the drain so this type of tragedy would not happen again!  As I recall, here in the US it was a little girl.

  25. I voted yes because I don’t know how anyone could have known about this dangerous situation and even if they had asked I doubt that the staff would have told them the truth.  I think it totally irresponsible that a resort would have a drainage system that would allow this to happen.  But even here in the US the resorts were given a huge amount of time to remedy their drains.

    1. If the staff wouldn’t tell the truth, how would anyone find out about this dangerous situation before something happened? Hotels and whatnot should have individual regulation and safety standards, rather than an ‘international bill of rights’. Enforcement on the large scale only works if each individual property cooperates, in which case they would do so anyways.

  26. As I read this I certainly empathize with mom that the loss of her son is tragic.  However, it’s easy to see there are no lifeguards on duty and most hotels don’t have them any way.  Also, no amount of legislation could have prevented the loss of this child.  

    Too often, people look for someone to blame when something like this happens and the hotel is an easy – and deep pocketed- target.  A lifeguard on duty (and I was one for years) wouldn’t/couldn’t have prevented this accident.  Once someone is sucked into a drainage pipe, there’s nothing anyone can do, especially a lifeguard.  The TRUE liability, IMHO, is the open drain pipe.

    1. My driveway is over a culvert made of 2 wide diameter concrete pipes.
      The culvert connects a creek between 2 ponds. When it rains hard, I can see the concrete pipes full of gushing water. A kid can easily get sucked in it if he swam near it. The purpose of the pipe is move large amounts of water when it storms. Therefore, a cover will only get blocked with debris and cause a flood. The point I am trying to make is the kid  (or anyone) should never have been close to that canal at all. That place should be off limit to people.

  27. Just a point of fact, I have lived in Budapest, Hungary for 12+ years. I know that the US Embassy’s list of doctors and medical resources has not changed since I first arrived. The doctors and the facilities on their list that they hand out have changed significantly over time. Thankfully, I have Hungarian health insurance and a local Hungarian doctor. I would not want my life to depend on the embassy.

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