Risky international destinations top traveller wish lists.
More than half of Australian travellers’ top five destinations to visit are countries with a Smartraveller advice level of two or above, indicating increased risks to Australian travellers.
Smartraveller, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) initiative, compiles travel advice for 177 countries to help Australians plan their travel and avoid dangerous situations overseas.
Each destination is assigned an advice level (one to four) which indicates a level of risk involved in travel which could impact safety and travel insurance.
The research from DFAT and the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) found more than 32% of Australian holidaymakers would still travel if a level three (‘reconsider your need to travel’) advisory affected their intended destination.
Level three is the second highest warning level and usually includes locations such as Egypt, Haiti, Bolivia and North Korea, however due to the COVID-19 outbreak, all countries are currently rated level three.
More than 25% of those who would still travel to level three countries said the appeal of the destination outweighed the risks.
ICA Understand Insurance spokesperson Lisa Kable said many Australians underestimated the risks associated with travel to level three and four destinations.
“Advisories for 177 countries are monitored and can change levels at any time depending on the risk to travellers,” Ms Kable said.
“Risks include disease, natural disasters, civil unrest, war, terrorism activity, volatile security and political situations, banditry, kidnapping, carjacking and violent opportunistic crime targeting foreigners.”
Ms Kable said travel insurance is available for most high-risk destinations, however level four destinations, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela and South Sudan, were usually excluded.
“Less than a third of travellers were both aware of the travel advice level of a destination and knew that not all travel insurance may provide coverage depending on the level,” she said.
“Some polices may provide cover in some circumstances such as travellers who are already travelling.
“Some policies will pay for additional travel and accommodation costs, lost luggage or repatriation.”
Most visited countries in 2019
- United States
- Sri Lanka
Top wish list destinations
Smartraveller advice levels
Level 1: Exercise normal safety precautions
Level 2: Exercise a high degree of caution
Level 3: Reconsider your need to travel.
Level 4: Do not travel.