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Australia still prefers to talk about Thailand terrorism rather than tourism

Phuket Still Hurt by Aussie 'Threat of Attack'

Monday, June 7, 2010
AUSTRALIA has lowered its alert for travel to Thailand from Level Four ''Reconsider Your Need to Travel'' to Level Three ''High Degree of Caution'' - but maintains that tourists remain at risk in destinations such as Phuket.

As a stream of Australian travellers to Phuket ignore the warnings, the official Australian approach contrasts with the Thai Government's view that Bangkok and even the troubled northern provinces are rapidly returning to normal.

Alarmingly, Australians are being told: ''There is a high threat of terrorist attack in Thailand. We continue to receive reports that terrorists may be planning attacks against a range of targets, including tourist areas and other places frequented by foreigners.''

The Summary at smartraveller.gov.au says: ''We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Thailand due to the high threat of terrorist attack and the possibility of further violent civil unrest.

''A state of emergency is in effect covering 24 provinces, including Bangkok and surrounding provinces, and central, north and north eastern Thailand.

''You should avoid any protests, political rallies and military deployments. You should also exercise a high degree of caution when approaching military checkpoints and avoid any protests, demonstrations or areas subject to operations by the security forces.

''Australians should avoid any prominent buildings associated with the Thai Government and military, such as Government House, the Parliament Building and the Supreme Court in Bangkok, all Provincial Government buildings and all military installations.

''There is a high threat of terrorist attack in Thailand. We continue to receive reports that terrorists may be planning attacks against a range of targets, including tourist areas and other places frequented by foreigners.''

If there is a ''high threat of terrorist attack in Thailand'' . . . ''including tourist areas and other places frequented by foreigners'' then it is the duty of the Australian Government to inform all travellers, not just the citizens of their own country.

At present, according to the Australian government, Australians are obliged to exercise a ''high degree of caution'' while holidaying on Phuket while the citizens of many other countries, including Germany and Taiwan, have been told by their national security experts that Phuket is safe.

Phuketwan advocates a single global body to overcome the deficiencies of the present nation-by-nation alerts so all tourists, no matter where they originate from, can have their faith in travel alerts and warnings restored.

Comments

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I do agree with your last comment about having a global body, but that runs into more complications. As to who says what, who argues with who about what is safe and what isn't.

As reported in the past by Phuketwan, Thailand has been less than honest when it comes to trouble here. eg, The two people who died on Phi Phi, to state one example.

So if Australia is being over cautious, they do have a right to protect their citizens. They are not forced to act on it, it's just advice in their eyes.

Editor: If the world can agree on safety standards for when travellers are in the air, then surely agreement can be reached on the ground as well. Even if the new global body was cautious, at least alerts and warnings would be the same for all. The fact that some people are declared safe, while others are not, makes a mockery of the advice from all governments. In the 21st century, rather than being left to decide who is right and who is wrong, we need reliable updating info from one world body.

Posted by Tbs on June 7, 2010 10:08

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The world cannot agree on anything, the europeans can not agree with each other. if there is a governing body that could satisfy this criteria i would agree....but at the moment its up to each government embassies to decide...this is right...
Like I said before who is going to implement this?

Editor: It's not that hard. The Europeans managed to agree that there was one body that could tell them when not to fly through volcanic ash (even if they argued about it later). Individual nations would still be able to register travelling citizens and advise them via text messages and email. As with most things, some countries do alerts and warnings well, others are awesomely bad. To improve the general standard, perhaps the best should be allowed to set the example for all. In most other aspects of life, the world has collectively left behind 19th century approaches like this one. There is a World Health Organisation. World bodies even govern various sports. Why should smart travellers be left at the mercy of blinkered bureaucrats? The present mess just doesn't make sense, JD. Let's not cling to the past and a failed system that works for nobody, least of all the tourism industry . . . which already has more than one international grouping. Better ideas come along every day: this is one of them. I am sure this will happen in your lifetime, JD.

Posted by J D on June 7, 2010 11:51

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As an expat Australian I am amazed at the ignorance of the Aus Government and Australians in general. I have just had a quick trip to Aus and the people I spoke to thought Thailand was ablaze end to end. Even before the red shirt happening they thought the problems in Yala province were countrywide, mainly because of the stupid government and its travel warnings.

Posted by azzagood on June 7, 2010 15:40

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I don't understand why you chose to criticise Australia for their warning. When other nations such as the UK and US were issuing "do not travel" warnings for the whole of Thailand Australia only issued one for Bangkok and have down graded it twice since the troubles have ceased.

They, like every other country would be making decisions based on intelligence reports and only do so to protect the welfare of their citizens. Frankly, if they have been overly cautious I'm more than happy.

I don't believe a single body would work because each country issues warnings based not only on what is happening in a particular country but also on the impact it may have on their race.

I'm sure citizens of Israel would be warned against travel to certain parts of the middle east but the citizens of other countries may not.

Anyway, it didn't stop me booking my holiday to Thailand. And your right azzagood, when I tell people I'm going for a holiday to Thailand they all respond by asking me why I would want to go to a country that is having a civil war.

As usual the mainstream media has done a good job of telling half the story and only showing an interest when there is a good shot of a burning building or riot police to be shown on the television.

Editor: If the media have told half the story, then the travel warnings and alerts have told even less. Most countries get it wrong, which is why there should be an international system. I am only using the Australian warnings as an example. The whole mish-mash of warnings update in such an uncoordinated fashion, it's impossible to keep up. If one nation has an intelligence report on one day saying one thing, and another country has an intelligence report on the same day saying just the opposite, who do travellers believe? That's the total failure of the present system. While the Australian authorities manage to separate the four troubled southern provinces from the rest of Thailand and declare that zone a more dangerous place to go, they choose not to separate the Andaman coast provinces and fail to note that there has never been trouble in this region. If you are blaming the media for distortions, then how much more distorted are the official travel warnings? The warnings are full of half-truths and exaggerations. They damage businesses run by Australians and others. They needlessly destroy the jobs of innocent people. They also put people off believing travel warnings, which eventually endangers more people in future. All the warnings do is protect the butts of a few bureaucrats. As I have said, individual nations can continue to warn their citizens by text message and email (eg, Israelis). But the world needs a comprehensive, reliable, accurate system that gives everyone the best information, fast. By the way, Australians are not a race. They are a mob. All mobs are equally safe or equally in danger, so nation-by-nation alert systems no longer make sense.

Posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2010 05:19

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Hey editor, stop droning on! "It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull." Your way outta your depth and are so goddam opinionated that your verging on being an ambarrassment to journalists!!

Editor: You just invented a new word for embarrassed ambassadors.

Posted by Billy Chung on June 8, 2010 15:47

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Another one of your intellectually challenged ideas, ''Phuketwan advocates a single global body to overcome the deficiencies of the present nation-by-nation alerts so all tourists, no matter where they originate from, can have their faith in travel alerts and warnings restored.''

Next you'll be advocating a one world government!

Would you be calling the German or Taiwanese embassy for assistance if something happened to you in Thailand,.or the Australian embassy?

Another great quote: ''By the way, Australians are not a race. They are a mob. All mobs are equally safe or equally in danger, so nation-by-nation alert systems no longer make sense.''

So are Australians a ''disorderly crowd of people''? Or ''an association of criminals''? Based on this comment I'll assume you don't have too many Australian friends?

I do miss the satire in the comic section of the papers back home; luckily I have your column to read.

You really are flogging this dead horse.

Editor: In Australia, the word ''mob'' is used to denote community groups or team affiliations ''Your mob beat my mob,'' etc. Australians are unlikely to find the word ''mob'' insulting.

The international travel warning idea applies to alerts and essential information. Every national government would continue to be responsible for evacuations. A voluntary registration system combined with text messages and emails would enable them to do that far more efficiently.

Posted by Chip Jr on June 8, 2010 23:32


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