Unloved souvenirs: keep the keepsakes out of the country

Is it time for tourists to learn the ethics of spending on souvenirs?

It is difficult to feel sympathy for the US tourist whose two gaudy coconut palm hats were seized by customs officers on her return from the Caribbean, as featured recently on the Seven Network’s Border Security: International.

Apart from her questionable taste in millinery, there is the fact that her souvenirs could have compromised the viability of the US’s coconut plantations, thanks to some tiny stowaways hiding among the woven palm leaves.

After confiscating the hats, the officer shook them over a bench and before long it was sprinkled with dozens of the invasive red palm mites. Catastrophe averted!

Among the crazy souvenirs Australians try to sneak past our customs are cat and dog pelts, products containing bark, wood or animal bones, and counterfeit accessories, especially fake Givenchy, Rolex, Apple and Bvlgari items. Not declaring these souvenirs will likely see you cop a fine.

Don’t be duped by merchants who try to tell you that their products are not banned in Australia, even if they are in one of the above categories. They may produce fake certificates that state the item is exempt from customs black lists … don’t get sucked in.

Global organisations estimate that a quarter of slave labourers in Third World countries are children. Many of these children are forced to work in factories churning out products for Western consumers. It is no stretch to imagine that tiny fingers have contributed to the manufacture of many intricate keepsakes requiring fine motor skills.

The unsavoury, and let’s face it, unsafe, conditions in which these children labour so tourists can gorge on bargain-priced trinkets, should be enough to put you off ever buying a souvenir again.

And if you are still unconvinced and want to bring back a little memento for your dear ones, you are likely wasting money, as many people shove unwanted souvenirs out of sight as soon as they are received.

Talking about waste, wouldn’t it be nicer to spend your precious holiday time doing something you enjoy rather than shopping for souvenirs for those back home?

Do you bring back souvenirs for loved ones and friends? Did you know that any products containing wood or bone are illegal to bring through Customs? Do you like receiving souvenirs because it means that someone has been thinking about you while they were on vacation?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    Ted Wards
    5th Feb 2018
    If you watch CNN Fifth Estate you''ll already know that big brand names and cheap clothes like Target and Kmart do the same thing. Perhaps you'll remember the big factory collapse in Bangladesh a few years back that made headlines where 100s died making clothes for brands like Katies, Target etc?
    5th Feb 2018
    We buy wooden bowls etc for use as fruit bowls or other such uses. We buy them direct from the maker and always declare them and have never had any taken from us. Always use the saying: if you are not sure then declare it. Our customs and immigration people are very friendly.

    5th Feb 2018
    Stopped buying useless souvenirs from my travels years ago
    6th Feb 2018
    Only buy Hawai'ian shirts in Honolulu, they are cotton and breathe easily in hot weather and I do not have to declare those
    6th Feb 2018
    If you are cruising some check what you take onboard their ship when you go back onboard. I unknowingly bought some shells but they were OK as they had nothing living in them at all. I declared them so there was no issue apart from them being checked. The kids were given medallions at Kids Club during the cruise. Security at the airport grabbed their bag aside. Travelling with a young family including 3 little ones from 7 months to 10 y.o. meant it was hard to be with all the hand luggage when it went on the security "belt" I alerted the parents and one stepped forward to ask what the problem was. Problem solved when they unlocked the case for it to be seached without it being damaged.

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