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Where You Gonna Run To? Bali or London?

When Governments Decide Which Countries to Label 'Safe' or 'Dangerous' for Foreign Travel, Practical Politics Outweigh Genuine Security Considerations.

(11/27/2006) A report in the Sydney Morning Herald by Tom Allard, National Security Editor, of the paper has underlined both the futility and haphazard way in which governments construct international travel advisories.

Quoting Australian tourism figures and security experts, Allard declares "travel to London 'riskier' than Bali" with "London is now seen as the prime western target for jihadists, especially after Britain's spy chief revealed there were 30 active terrorist plots and 1600 suspects."

Lacking Both Rhyme and Reason

Supporting widely held suspicion that government travel advisories have more to do with politics than with any objective reference to actual threats, the 900,000 Australians that travel to Britain every year are only advised by their government "to exercise caution and monitor developments." Surprisingly, on a warning scale of one to five, Britain sits at the second lower category of risk. According to Allard, "Indonesia, by contrast, is in the second highest category, below only a few countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan.

The Sydney Morning Herald explains: "While the threat from Islamic extremism remains in Indonesia, the country has not suffered a large-scale terrorist attack in the past 12 months, the first time for more than five years."

On the other hand, London, which does not warrant an extreme caution from the Australian government, has suffered suicide bombings by Islamic extremists on the City's transportation system with British authorities saying they have "narrowly" thwarted at least 10 plots to attack aircraft leaving Heathrow Airport.

Despite Britain's more recent experience with terrorisms than Indonesia and a worrisome prognosis of future attacks by both Australian and U.K. security experts, Indonesia remains on the short end of the stick when it comes to travel advisories.