Sunday, 17 February 2019

Most Australians are unaware of DFAT travel warnings

For a long time – ever since, being always obsessed with lists, I looked at which countries were viewed as extremely dangerous to travel by DFAT and various other national travel advisories.

Almost all the “developed” nations now issues travel advisories to their citizens, but my brother has said that the basic purpose of travel warnings is not to helm travellers know what places are safe to visit. Rather, my brother says that the purpose of travel warnings is to help travel insurance companies to decide whether to insure visitors to various countries or regions. Almost all Australian travel insurance companies will without exception refuse to insure travel to a DFAT “Do Not Travel” area, and many will refuse to insure travel to a DFAT “Reconsider Your Need To Travel” area.

With the information available today, I have possessed no doubt that potential travellers to “Do Not Travel” destinations – even those with significant interest therein – would stand able to recognise that the Saharan countries, Yemen, Syria and Iraq are extremely dangerous due to ongoing wars.

However, it is still interesting to know that most Australians have no actual knowledge of the travel warnings. According to recent research by ‘Insure and Go’ only two Australians in five know of DFAT’s travel warnings at all. I do not believe this means most Australians are unaware of the risks of travelling to most destinations in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Whilst a large number of destinations in sub-Saharan Africa are very rarely visited by Australians – to visit many sub-Saharan nations requires you to travel to a third country for a visa – I know very few people would randomly be interested in visiting a country that happens to be out-of-the-way. Those who would want to if they could would almost certainly research these places themselves so they would know what places are either:
  1. unsafe to visit due to war or other violent conflicts, or drug crime
  2. impossible to visit for reasons of internal policy
    • this second state of affairs is practically unknown today, but was widespread before Stalinism fell in Europe in:
      1. Stalinist nations of Asia and to some extent Eastern Europe
      2. the Arab Gulf States – of which only BaŠł•rain issued tourist visas before 1990
      3. many nations in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in its arid Saharan fringe (e.g. Chad and Siad Barre’s Somalia)
Government travel warnings, whilst widespread, are by no means necessary or essential to international travel, even if there might be more cases akin to Wyatt Roy’s trip to Iraq – largely motivated by his political interests – if governments did not offer this advice.