Although my mother and brother have no interest in remotely risky destinations, I often do – indeed many I can find very interesting due to the cultural differences and the fact that many have ecological traits either very different (e.g. Afghanistan) or quite similar to Australia itself.
It was very frequent during the holidays that I would – although always quietly – tell my mother and brother about these “Do Not Travel” warnings that I noticed from the Department of Foreign Affairs and trade (abbreviated to DFAT). My mother and brother would say there was little of interest in most “Do Not Travel” destinations, although my knowledge of linguistics and ecology make it tough to agree.
Australia’s DFAT is not the only group who published travel warnings (and advice for less inherently risky destinations). The British Foreign Office, Global Affairs Canada, the U.S. Department of State, and sites in Ireland, Taiwan, Japan and other European nations also produce travel warnings for dangerous regions of the world. Of these, I have studied most extensively Global Affairs Canada and the British Foreign Office – indeed it was those and not DFAT that I based my early studies of the topic upon. Whilst I was travelling in Japan, it occurred to me that DFAT often had “reconsider your need to travel” in areas where the British Foreign Office seemed to be simply giving the normal “See our travel advice before travelling” (the lowest warning). My mother and brother have disputed this, and also disputed my attribution of the difference to Australians’ inherently greater risk aversion from living with an exceptionally variable hydrology compared to the Enriched World.
For this reason, I have decided to compare DFAT’s travel warnings with those of the British Foreign Office on a country-by-country basis. I have chosen the British Foreign Office because, unlike Global Affairs Canada, it has really accurate maps of what regions – not merely what countries – should be avoided.
Since most inherently dangerous destinations are in the hotter parts of the globe, it is possible to do this reasonably systematic country-by-country basis, starting in Australian longitudes and going westward through Asia, Africa and the Americas. I will do Asia in this chapter, and Africana dn teh Americas in subsequent chapters who exact detail I have not yet planned out. We will compare DFAT’s rating with that of the BFO with a score of:
- +1 if DFAT is more restrictive
- 0 if DFAT and the BFO are the same
- -1 if DFAT be less restrictive
|BFO (top) and DFAT (bottom) travel advisory for Indonesia|
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory for the Philippines|
India – the next country I would have done – does not unfortunately have a proper BFO map to compare. It’s interesting, though, that some other nations list higher-level “Avoid All Travel” warnings for the state of Manipur in the northeast, which has only the second-highest “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” from DFAT.
Pakistan has similar problems, but here DFAT is much stricter than the BFO. DFAT advises to at least “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” for all of Pakistan, but BFO does not except for the most inherently dangerous regions.
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisories for Nepal|
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Afghanistan|
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisories for Iraq|
Looking at the map above, one sees exactly the same pattern as for Afgahnistan. Australia’s DFAT advises to avoid all travel to the whole of Iraq, whereas Britain’s Foreign Office allows for essential travel to the south and the northeast. The northeast of Iraq is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the south is far from the danger of ISIS, so authorities in London do not consider it as dangerous.
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisories for Turkey|
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisories for Georgia|
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisories for Syria|
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisories for Lebanon|
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisories for Saudi Arabia|
However, as we can see, this does not apply. DFAT still places a “reconsider your need to travel” warning upon all of Saudi Arabia, and the BFO also distinguishes between “essential” and “non-essential” (on organised tour or transit visa) travel.
Moreover, with Saudi Arabia the difference between BFO and DFAT is very clear. DFAT says the need for travel to all of Saudi Arabia must be carefully considered, whereas the BFO applies this only to areas close to the Yemeni border. In addition, the area near that border with the strongest warming (“avoid all travel” or “do not travel”) is much wider in the DFAT map, where it extend for thirty kilometres versus only ten in the BFO map.
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisories for Yemen|
Overall:Of the nations we have studied and compared BFO and DFAT travel advisories for, we can see that:
- Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia
- plus Pakistan which was unable to be mapped
- all receive tougher travel warnings taken as a whole from DFAT than from the BFO
- Georgia, Syria and Yemen
- plus unmapped India (though with local differences)
- all receive the same level of travel warnings taken as a whole from DFAT as from the BFO
- this gives an overall score for Asia of +9
- it certainly suggests Australia is far more severe (stricter or more cautious) in its travel warnings than Britain re Asia