WASHINGTON, december 26.- The U.S. Department of State has long had a system of Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings to inform U.S. travelers about dangerous conditions in the countries they want to visit. For an equally long period of time travelers and the travel industry has complained about this system, which they say is politicized and unclear, resulting in alerts and warnings that are often arbitrary and don’t truly reflect the situation in the countries and regions affected.

Well, the State Department apparently got the message, so it’s introducing a new system in mid-January 2018 that it claims will be much more specific. The question remains whether the change will really address the complaints many have had about the current system.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs within the State Department is charged with the protection of U.S. citizens abroad. As part of that mission, it provides products that inform U.S. citizens of safety and security issues outside of the United States.  The bureau now says it will make it easier for travelers to access clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information about every country in the world.

The State Department took the first step when it unveiled an improved travel.state.gov website that went live on Dec. 4 with a new, mobile-friendly design and simplified navigation. The next step, according to the department, will be the launch of a new system of Travel Advisories and Travel Alerts for all countries, which will be available on travel.state.gov in mid-January.

The State Department says it will replace Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts with a Travel Advisory for each country of the world. It says Travel Advisories will follow a consistent format and use plain language to help U.S. citizens find and use important security information. Those advisories can apply to any of four standard levels of advice, give an explanation for the reasons for the level, and provide clear actionable steps that U.S. citizens should take. Those four levels are Level 1, Exercise Normal Precautions; Level 2, Exercise Increased Caution; Level 3, Reconsider Travel; and Level 4, Do Not Travel.

The State Department will issue an overall Travel Advisory level for a country, but levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country. For instance, it may advise U.S. citizens to “Exercise Increased Caution” (Level 2) in a country, but to “Reconsider Travel” (Level 3) to a particular area within the country.

U.S. embassies and consulates abroad will issue Alerts in place of the current Emergency and Security Messages. Alerts will follow an easy-to-understand format that permits quicker release of the information to the public. Sound simple? Well, we’ll see. But for now, looks like we need to adapt to a whole new set of advisories that could end up being as complicated as the original system.