If you are planning a holiday, you might be dreaming of beaches and bars or cities with historical landmarks. Safety is sometimes lower on the list when it considering your dream holiday destinations. However, political tensions and social unrest are stronger than ever in 2018. It is important to look into safety conditions for tourists in the city and country you want to visit. Researching local laws and customs is also necessary to avoid getting into trouble there. Unfortunately, the infrastructure in some places is extremely poor, making things more difficult and increasing risks for travellers. Attitudes to minority groups can also vary. Here are some of the countries you should cross off your holiday destination list according to travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for British nationals.
Places to Avoid in Europe
Most European countries are the safest places in the world to visit. They have good transport links, clean cities, and relatively low crime rates. However, major destinations like France and Germany are at high risk of terrorist attacks. There have been several tragic terrorist attacks in both countries in recent years, with multiple fatalities. The French and German governments increased their security measures in response. Many holidaymakers visit these countries with no problems, but the UK government advises caution and vigilance when travelling there. Greece is extremely popular as a tourist destination, but visitors should be aware of the risk of wildfires in certain areas. There is also a risk of catching the West Nile virus, which spreads through mosquito bites and can cause serious health problems.
Places to Avoid in Asia
In between Europe and Asia lies Russia, the largest country in the world. The relationship between Russia and the UK is currently strained due to their interference in US politics and several assassination attempts within the UK, which Russia denies. There may be anti-British sentiment, and there has been a rise in violent hate crimes against minorities. To the south in East Asia, the mystery of North Korea is a draw for some travellers. The totalitarian state has very strict regulations. US citizens cannot enter North Korea, and UK citizens can only visit on organized tours. The UK government advises against any travel to North Korea to avoid the risk of imprisonment. Elsewhere in Asia, the UK government also advises against travel to many parts of the Phillippines. This is due to the “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence,” with a high risk of crime and terrorist action against Western nationals.
Places to Avoid in the Middle East
There are many beautiful and historical places to visit in the Middle East, but due to past wars and ongoing terrorist activity, several countries in this region are much too dangerous for tourists. Most of Iraq and Afghanistan and the whole of Syria are all on the UK government’s list for complete avoidance. Military operations are ongoing in these countries to contend with frequent violent conflicts with terrorists. There is also a high terrorism alert for Iran and Pakistan. Turkey is a popular destination for British tourists, but as it shares a border with Syria, caution is advised. Tourists should not travel to Yemen at all as the country is still in a state of civil war. Due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, travel to the Gaza strip is not advised. In Egypt, some areas are safe for tourists to visit, but there is a risk of terrorism and a high risk of criminal activity against Western foreigners outside of the Cairo metropolitan area.
Places to Avoid in Africa
Most of the places which draw tourists to Africa are reasonably safe for them, such as the popular National Parks. Due to fighting between armed militias in Libya, British nationals are advised not to go there. Terrorist attacks are common and the violent clashes have led to airport closures. Following militant and terrorist attacks in the past, a state of emergency remains active in Tunisia. The UK government warns visitors against going near the borders of Tunisia between Algeria and Libya. The Central African Republic is also a no-go zone because of violence between armed groups. North Cameroon and some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria aren’t advisable destinations. These areas experience high levels of political unrest, terrorist activity, kidnappings, and violent crime. Many places in South Africa outside of common tourist areas have high levels of rape and murder as well as theft.
Places to Avoid in the Americas
The USA and Canada are relatively safe for British tourists, although gun crime is a high risk in US cities especially. This form of domestic terrorism is the most common there. Many countries in Central and Latin America are ideal destinations for tourists because of their lush landscapes and beautiful beaches. Mexico and Honduras are safe according to the FCO, but that is mostly concerning terrorism levels. Several major cities in these countries have the highest murder rates in the world, largely due to drug-related gang violence. Street crime, robberies, assault, vehicle hijacking, and shootings are common threats. There is also a moderate risk of Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and particularly concerning for pregnant travellers. All of the previous information also applies to Venezuela, which the FCO does advise against visiting. Shortage of resources and crime outbursts are common.
Travel Warnings in 2018
Travel warnings aren’t supposed to be fearmongering. Making the most of holidays and experiencing different parts of the world is something to encourage. The point of the FCO’s advice is to make sure that you don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger. Some countries do not have a British embassy for you to go to for help. Your safety is your responsibility overall. Make sure to read up on different laws and levels of enforcement and crime rates. Always make sure to apply for any extra documentation your destination country requires. Be at least as vigilant against petty crime as you would be anywhere else at any time. If you are worried about what to do in a crisis, including terrorism or natural disasters, seek further advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.