||02-04-2008 12:41 PM
Croatia safer than Canada
According to Australia...because of our avalanches and windchill.....dont forget about out fearful spontanious forrest fires, that can pop up at anytime.
TORONTO - As Canadian tourism officials prepare to launch a new campaign next week to promote Canada as a place for Australian tourists to "keep exploring," travellers from Down Under may have second thoughts if they take the advice of their own government's "Smart Traveller" website.
It has a warning posted about travel to The Great White North.
The website, which is run by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has Canada listed as a country where travellers should "exercise caution," which is the second-lowest rating out of five - the highest being "do not travel."
Australians are advised to be cautious because of "the risk of a terrorist attack" in Canada, heavy snow, windchill and ice in the winter, and forest fires that can erupt "at any time."
British Columbia, in particular, was singled out as being in an active earthquake zone and "subject to avalanches," along with Alberta.
Canada in the same company as some, but not all, members of the G7 - the U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Italy. But such countries as Serbia, Kazakhstan, Bosnia, Albania, Spain, Malaysia, Greece and Cambodia also have an "exercise caution" flag on the website alongside Canada.
The website says the United Kingdom remains a potential target for terrorist activity and lists the attacks in 2005 and 2007. It also says Australian travellers face the risk of terrorism in the U.S. and mentions a July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which concluded the U.S. is in a heightened threat environment.
But the site doesn't specifically mention why Canada is listed as a risk for terrorism.
Countries listed as safer than Canada include China, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Romania, South Korea, Ireland, Norway, Japan and Latvia. They get a "be alert to own security" rating, the lowest on the list.
Dozens of countries are deemed less safe than Canada and Australian travellers are warned to have a "high degree of caution" when going there. Other countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan have a "do not travel" warning.
William Davis, a spokesman at Australia's High Commission in Canada, told The Canadian Press from Ottawa the warning about Canada is not new, but a "couple of years old."
"This is quite an old warning and it's not really about Canada," Australian High Commissioner Bill Fisher said "The warning is a general one for all Western countries and it followed some quite nasty statements by al-Qaida two or three years ago about attacks on Western countries."
Fisher said Canada is low down on the list of warnings and added all governments put out warnings about countries.
While the commissioner said the warning is old, the website does list the advice as current for Saturday, January 26, 2008 - which is Australia Day, a national public holiday across the country.
"Every year we have a survey about the dream destination and every year in Australia, Canada is No. 1," Fisher added. "So I think people vote with their feet and their money, certainly with their ambitions, so we send about 200,000 Australians to Canada a year."
Canada's Foreign Affairs department declined to return calls seeking the government's reaction to the travel warning.
The Foreign Affairs website, which offers advice to travellers, has no official travel warnings against Australia, and says most Canadian visitors to that country don't have any problems, and there are "no serious security or safety concerns."
However, it does say foreigners are targets for pickpockets and purse snatchers, especially at airports, and all travellers should exercise caution in the more popular tourist areas and avoid hitchhiking Down Under. It says women should not travel alone after dark in Australia and that flash floods and bushfires occur in many parts of the country.
The Canadian Tourism Commission, which promotes Canada to 10 regions including Australia, said 207,000 Australians visited Canada between January and November 2007, up 9.9 per cent from the previous year. The CTC is predicting a four-per-cent rise in the number of Aussie visitors to Canada in the first quarter of 2008 over the same period a year ago.
Sylvie Lafleur, executive director of overseas markets for the commission, told The Canadian Press in an interview from Vancouver that Canada is "very well known for being a friendly, safe and secure destination.
"We know that Australians are very attracted to the breadth of experiences that Canada has to offer."
She said the United Nations has ranked Canada as the second best country to live in.
"I think that speaks volumes," Lafleur said.
She declined to say whether the travel warning would make the commission's job harder to sell Canada as a favourable tourism destination aboard. But she said she isn't worried, noting the high numbers of Australians who visit Canada.
"Canada, we know through our research . . . is really considered a friendly and welcoming destination for Australians."
Lafleur said the CTC promotes Canada through print advertising, billboards and the Internet. She said the commission will be launching a new campaign in Australia starting Monday.
According to the Canadian Embassy website in Australia, Australia provides the fifth largest number of overseas visitors to Canada each year.