Disturbing Aussie travel trend

Almost nine out of 10 Australian travellers are attracted to risky destinations, a new study finds, and one third would still travel to a destination regardless of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advice, because “the appeal of the destination justified the risk”.

More than half of Australian travellers’ top three wish list destinations are countries with a Smartraveller level 2, 3 or 4 advice level, according to research commissioned by DFAT Insurance Council of Australia’s Understand Insurance initiative.

The research found that:

  • 32 per cent of Australian travellers would probably still travel if DFAT raised the travel advice level on Smartraveller to Level 3 (reconsider your need to travel).
  • 87 per cent of Australians aspiring to travel overseas are attracted to destinations that carry risk, or are off the beaten track, with 60 per cent of those under 30 saying they are attracted to places that feel adventurous
  • 10 per cent of travellers chose not to buy travel insurance. Of these, 71 per cent were travelling to a country where they hold nationality or dual nationality
  • Of those without insurance, 15 per cent said they expected to be safe in their destination
  • 22 per cent of men under 30 travelled overseas without travel insurance
  • One in four travellers wrongly believes the Australian government will pay for medical treatment or emergency travel home if something goes wrong.


Lisa Kable, spokesperson for understandinsurance.com.au, says: “Travellers should check Smartraveller advisories when planning, booking and prior to departure on an international trip.

“Advisories for 177 countries are monitored and can change levels at any time, depending on the risk to travellers.

“The survey found 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.

“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,” Ms Kable says.

While travel insurance is available for most high-risk destinations, Level 4 destinations are often excluded.

Level 4 (‘Do not travel’) countries include Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, Libya and South Sudan among others, while level 3 countries include such places as Bangladesh, North Korea and Bolivia. Level 2 (‘Exercise a high degree of caution’) destinations currently include Belgium, France, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Chile. 

Check www.smartraveller.gov.au for more destination advice levels.

Which risky countries would you visit?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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