The Australian government’s Smartraveller site, which is one of the world’s standard references for travel advisories, classifies travel risk in several categories. The highest classification of travel risk warning is the ‘Do Not Travel’ category. This classification can also affect your travel insurance, as insurers reevaluate the coverage issues in travel to these places.
The current ‘Do Not Travel’ countries
The current list includes several countries in the midst of wars, and others with major internal issues and conflicts. Several of them are known to be particularly dangerous to foreigners. In some parts of the world insurgents, militants and terrorists specifically target foreigners.
Central African Republic
How do countries get onto the ‘Do Not Travel’ list?
The ‘Do Not Travel’ list is compiled according to the government’s assessment of risk, known dangers, and professional threat assessments by security and intelligence agencies. The ‘Do Not Travel’ classification is an unequivocal advisory status, which has drawn complaints from foreign governments in the past. In practice, the ‘Do Not Travel’ is generally accurate, and typically applied to places where the risk level is considered unacceptably high. In many cases the ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory has been proven to be accurate.
How current is the information?
This category of travel warning has a natural requirement for currency of information. The intention of the ‘Do Not Travel’ advice is to ensure that travelers are fully informed of the risks. The information is as current as possible, and is changed as often as necessary.
Will the government help if you are in trouble in a ‘Do Not Travel’ destination?
The government will definitely try and help, but in the ‘Do Not Travel’ category, helping may be very difficult. There are several issues which impact the ability of the government to provide assistance:
Access to people in trouble in war zones can be extremely difficult. Risks are greatly accentuated in actual combat areas, and realistically getting effective help to people is sometimes very dangerous. Although it is possible for help to be provided, there’s often a virtual obstacle course of situations to be overcome.
In some parts of the world, terrorists, criminals and pirates target foreigners, particularly tourists and businesspeople. The ‘Do Not Travel’ warning is often based on these situations, and the level of difficulty in providing assistance is one of the factors in assessment.
Government help usually proceeds through the diplomatic channels available, if any, in these countries. Diplomatic issues can also be a problem in some areas where governments have limited control over the situations affecting foreign nationals.
If traveling to one of the ‘Do Not Travel’ countries, check out the online travel insurance websites before booking. These sites have a lot of useful current information and give international travel insurance rates. You can check with insurance experts about travel risks, and get informed advice about any problems.