New Australian travel warning.

Article by Kevin Boyle

The Australian Government has issued a warning for over 20 countries that Aussies should seek specific advice before heading to and include kidnapping in their travel insurance policy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued a statement that it is aware of a number of cases that include Australians involved in incidents of kidnapping for ransom, for political motives and by pirates. The government's SmartTraveller website has declared kidnapping a world wide threat but has narrowed down 20 countries of particularly high risk. The list is not isolated to well known trouble spots but also includes popular destinations such as Egypt, the Philippines, Tunisia, Central and South America.

The warning highlights a number of kidnapping threats such as the highly publicised Somali pirates as well as the the not so commonly known ransom kidnappings and forced ATM withdrawals of Central America and South East Asia. The warning outlines that travellers should be cautious at local festivals where kidnappers know there will be many vulnerable tourists. It also advised travellers to be wary of tour operators and  cab drivers who could be in cahoots with kidnappers and also to avoid travelling alone. The Australian government's long standing policy is not to make any payments or concessions to kidnappers, for risk of increasing the motive for further abductions.

Travellers are advised to register before heading overseas and heed the destination specific guidelines issued by the SmartTraveller website. Where possible Aussies should also avoid areas of known risk and pursue a travel insurance policy that includes kidnapping, if travel to such destinations is absolutely necessary.

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