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Holiday Thrill Seekers

Press release: 01/09/2008

More and more Brits are chasing the ultimate holiday thrill by heading to risky destinations, despite discouraging advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

According to research by travel insurer LV=, since 2003, Brits have taken nearly five million holidays to destinations highlighted on the FCO's ‘don't go list', with a further eight per cent of Brits planning a trip in the next 12 months. In particular these destinations are appealing to younger travellers, with 16 per cent of 18-24 year olds planning a trip in the coming year.

The LV= report has found that many of these travellers were unaware of the dangers they could potentially face, leading to increased numbers of UK tourists becoming victims of theft, robbery and intimidation.

Current destinations considered unsafe for UK visitors include much of Africa plus parts of the Russian Federation, India, and even certain areas in countries like Turkey, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The government currently warns against visiting areas in over 30 countries and the list is regularly updated. Only half of the people LV= interviewed said they were aware of the FCO advice.

The research also revealed a worrying disregard for the Government warnings with nearly 50 per cent of travellers stating that they would carry on with their plans regardless.

Unfortunately this attitude is proving naïve, as these trips are ending up as perilous for many. Nearly half of the travellers (46 per cent) heading to these destinations fell victim to crime while they were away. The most common problems were aggressive begging, followed by corrupt officials asking for bribes, lost or stolen luggage, local hostility, bomb scares and pick pocketing.

According the LV= research, it's not just the countries people are visiting, but also their attitude when they get there. The majority of people who had travelled to a country on the ‘Don't go' list also headed off (62 per cent) independently with no assistance or advice from a local tour guide.

It would seem that the desire for adventure or seclusion is the driving factor behind travellers heading to these dangerous destinations, many of whom (19 per cent) claim they're bored by predictable resorts.

One in five (18 per cent) travellers said they specifically set out to travel to an off beat destination in an attempt to avoid other tourists, while a further one in five (17 per cent) say for them the ‘holiday fear factor' is all part of the experience.

Emma Holyer, Spokesperson for LV=, said:
"As a nation we are getting more adventurous when it comes to our holidays and although it's great to see new places, it's also very important that travellers understand the risks they face if they are going to a potentially dangerous destination. Foreign travel is so commonplace these days it's easy to get blasé about travelling to places off the tourist trail but we'd urge anyone going on holiday this summer to research their destination thoroughly and pay attention to the Government advice.

"Aside from the obvious risks to your safety, the vast majority of travel insurers will not provide cover if you go to an area that the Government warns against visiting, so you need to do your research thoroughly before booking an unusual destination."

It's not just the threat of violence that is leaving travellers at risk. Nearly one in five (18 per cent) Brits are putting themselves in danger by visiting tropical countries and not bothering to take the recommended medical vaccinations.

Emma Holyer, continued:
"Although the LV= travel insurance policy will cover you if you fall ill with one of these diseases if you didn't get vaccinated, many insurers will not, meaning you will have no medical cover and are at an increased risk of becoming seriously ill."

The findings also reveal that it's not only intrepid travellers who are failing to make themselves aware of the risks when they go on holiday, with those journeying closer to home also often unaware of potential dangers. Just one in ten (13 per cent) tourists journeying to Spain were able to identify it as a high terrorist risk, despite 10 million planning a visit in the next year.

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