Travel Warnings Rarely Followed — Most End Up ‘Skimmed or Ignored’

With the recent Philippines hostage situation dominating headlines, travel warnings and outright bans are in the spotlight once again. Hong Kong is one of the latest to advise its citizens to avoid travelling within the country, while a series of other foreign offices have advised holidayers to go with caution in mind, avoiding obvious security threats and potential high-risk areas.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that most of these travel warnings will go ignored. Officials in Australia have noticed that, despite an increase in travel warnings against Fiji, the amount of people visiting the island remains at record high levels. There seem to be several theories for the limited interest in travel warnings, the most popular of which is that there are simply too many of them.

It’s a theory that’s gaining ground, particularly in Australia. Travel warnings are typically posted for even the most minor of events – an embassy closing, or small protests, for example. Travel experts have warned that reporting on trivial travel dangers is likely to devalue the warnings posted during times of serious danger or political upheaval, particularly in countries that are featured frequently.

The most obvious examples are the country’s do-all warnings against Thailand and Indonesia, which failed to spot tourists from visiting the country’s in record numbers. Australia has held a warning for travellers in Thailand for the last few months – a needlessly long length that may have resulted in few people paying real attention to the warning, and subsequently ignoring its importance.

The measures against Indonesia are similar – their extended visibility has made them something that many travellers think of as normal. Whether the system needs reform or not is debatable – with citizens continuing to holiday in ‘danger’ zones, it could stand to reason that people simply aren’t all that concerned by the possibility of political dangers or violence.