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Jim Eagles: There's no place as safe as ...

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The recent London riots may have Kiwis and Aussies thinking twice about where to take their OE. Photo / Willy Flockton
The recent London riots may have Kiwis and Aussies thinking twice about where to take their OE. Photo / Willy Flockton

Where is it safe to travel overseas? Some places are fairly easy to rule out. Afghanistan or Iraq, Congo and Sudan are only likely to attract the most adventurous traveller. But if you're of a nervous disposition, where can you feel really, really safe?

If safety lies in numbers, then you might think France, as the most popular tourist destination on the planet with 76.8 million visitors a year, would be fine. But according to our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's travel website: "There is some risk to your security in France due to an ongoing threat of terrorist activity and we advise caution."

Maybe safety lies in familiarity, so perhaps Britain, which until relatively recently many Kiwis still called "home" and went to for their OE. Not so. MFat has for some time classified Britain in the same "some risk" category as France. And now there's the thought that you might get caught up in riots.

A recent article by Sydney Morning Herald blogger The Backpacker was headlined, "London Calling? Not to us, not any more". It went on to add that, "London's not the safe haven it once was ... This could be the incident that tips Australian tourists away from our traditional, safe hunting ground and in the direction of European cities that may, in theory, seem more difficult for an inexperienced tourist to visit, but are actually clean, safe, easy places to travel around."

Good point. So what's the safest place in Europe? Belgium, surely, nothing ever happens there. Oops. MFat advises that, "the terrorist group al Qaeda has made a specific threat to conduct terrorist attacks across Europe and Belgium shares this threat with the rest of the region ... The Belgian authorities have arrested and convicted a number of individuals for terrorism related offences in recent years."

Well, perhaps we should look somewhere closer to home, and warmer, like Fiji. Sorry. "There is some risk to your security in Fiji and we advise caution," the safetravel website says, before going on to expand on the risk posed by the military regime and "indications that crime levels are increasing in Fiji".

Oh dear. Maybe Australia would be a better bet. Well, yes, but not by much. MFat warns that it is subject to a dengue fever warning covering much of the Pacific and to the general global risk of terrorism. Sounds as though the only really safe place is to stay at home. Or maybe not.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's website says, "We advise you to be alert to your own security in New Zealand." It also goes on to warn, "Australians in Christchurch and Lyttelton should exercise a high degree of caution because of damage to buildings, public infrastructure, and essential services caused by the earthquake ..."

Suddenly Iraq and Afghanistan don't sound so bad after all. And at least if you go there you'll have fantastic bragging rights.

- NZ Herald

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