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Australian Government Restructures How it Issues Travel Advisories.

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Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has restructured the way it issues travel advisories opting for a system that is aimed at providing easier understanding and be more useful for their nationals traveling abroad.

Perhaps in partial reaction to strong criticism from the travel industry and the public who thought the former system too laden with non-useful bureaucratic gobbledygook, the new system operates on a five-level advisory system graphically presented on DFAT's constantly updated web site.

Under the new system, every country in the word frequented by Australian travelers will get at least one rating, with multiple ratings in countries where specific levels of threats are deemed to vary.

Five Levels of Warning

The 5 levels, starting from the least severe to a no go ranking are:

1. Be alert to your own security

2. Exercise Caution and monitor developments that might affect your safety

3. Exercise a high degree of caution

4. Reconsider your need to travel

5. Advised not to travel

Emphasizing that DFAT only issues advice and not warnings to travelers, the expanded information also address issues such as health, visas, and local law information.

How Goes the World?

A quick check of several destinations gives some clues to how DFAT viewed the world in early November 2005.

Indonesia - Travelers to most places in Indonesia got an advice level of "4" urging they reconsider their need to travel, while those considering a trip to Aceh or Maluku were given a level "5" and advised not to travel. .

Thailand - Most destinations in Thailand rated a "3" suggesting Australian "exercise a high degree of caution." However, visitors to Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla were given a level "4" advice recommending a reconsideration of their trip.

USA - The U.S.A., despite having suffered the world's greatest single terrorist attack in 2001 and having held Australian nationals for extended periods of detention without trial, got a sterling advisory level rating of "1" under the new system.

United Kingdom - the U.K. earned a level "2" rating, just one level off the safest rating possible, despite the multiple bombing attacks resulting in numerous death that have only recently occurred in London.

Israel - As a whole, Israel was put on the same level as Indonesia and given a "4" while the Gaza Strip and West Bank merited a dire "5" rating.

India - India received three different ratings: On an overall basis India earned a "2," putting it on a par with the U.K.; the strife-torn areas of Jammu and Kashmir warranted a "5" no go advice; and the north-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur were rated with a "4."

France - Despite being wracked by nearly 10-days of uninterrupted civil unrest in its capital Paris, France continued to merit DFAT's best rating of "1."

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