Australians are being warned about engaging in risky behaviours while travelling, including – but not limited to – failing to take out appropriate travel insurance cover.
According to new figures recently released by the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, almost 11 million overseas trips were taken by Australian citizens in 2017, with more than one in five of these involving a location in South East Asia. Unfortunately, Australians seem to be running into trouble in this region.
“[South East Asia is] like our playground out the back,” said Phil Sylvester, Travel Safety Expert at Travel Insurance Direct, “and we forget it’s not actually the same country and that the same rules and standards don’t necessarily apply.”
Worryingly, deaths of Australian tourists abroad have reportedly increased by 36 per cent over the past half a decade, with significant increases noted in Thailand and the Philippines, according to the results of a joint survey undertaken by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller website and the Insurance Council of Australia’s Understand Insurance project. Thailand was found to be the most dangerous country for Aussies, with 238 deaths in 2017, a 17-per-cent rise from the year before, followed by the Philippines – 153 deaths, a rise of 21 per cent, and Indonesia – 117 deaths, a rise of nine per cent. The US and Vietnam made up the rest of the top five, with 98 and 85 deaths in 2017 respectively (although these both represented decreases from the previous year).
The top causes of death were illness (up by 15 per cent), natural causes (down by seven per cent) and accidents (down by two per cent).
“It was an area of concern that had shown up through insurance claims but also calls to consular officials in various destinations,” said Lisa Kable, a spokesperson for Understand Insurance. “These are population destinations that are reasonably priced and ones that often predispose themselves to some activities that aren’t commonly found at home in Australia.”
Two-thirds of Australians who had been to South East Asia in the past two years were found to have partook in some form of risky behaviour, while around 10 per cent took their trips without securing travel insurance coverage.
“It’s about the unexpected,” warned Sylvester. “It’s not a horrible world out there, but it’s always best to be prepared. Having a good safety net by having travel insurance is the only way to look after yourself.”