14 JANUARY 2020 I Australia’s travel advisory on Nepal was updated, coincidentally, just as the Himalayan nation’s tourism minister was hopping Australian cities to promote Visit Nepal Year 2020.
The renewed advisory is not something minister Yogesh Bhattarai would have liked to see as he told his fellow Nepalese in Australia about attracting tens of thousands of Australian tourists to the scenic mountain nation.
Responding to a query from southasia.com.au, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) indicated that the prevailing law and order situation in the Himalayan nation meant the Australian government was obliged to re-issue its 2nd “Level” travel advisory on Nepal.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade keeps all our travel advisories under close review. Our travel advice for Nepal was last updated on 9 January 2020. The level of our advice did not change. Australians are advised to ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ in Nepal (Level 2 of 4),” the DFAT spokesperson said.
The second level of travel advisory is however not too bad compared to what Level 3 and 4 would have meant. The “exercise a high degree of caution” Level simply means Nepal is not as safe as any big Australian city would be and hence, the government is only asking its citizens to be cautious and be on the look out. This Level does not mean the Australian government is actively discouraging its outbound tourists from visiting Nepal.
Most South Asian nations including India continue to attract the same level of travel advisory except Pakistan and Afghanistan that of course attract Level 3 and 4 respectively.
Only Bhutan attracts Level 1 advisory, by far the most favourable travel advisory.
It is noteworthy that the US Department of State also has similar travel advisory on Nepal. Nonetheless, over 60,000 Americans travel to the South Asian republic.
Last year, 28,865 Australians visited Nepal between January and October, Nepal Tourism Board’s statistics reveal, which was a 7.1 percent increase over the same period in 2018.
There are four levels of country-specific travel advisories that Australian government may issue for its outbound travellers:
Level 1: Exercise normal safety precautions
“Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. At level 1, the security environment is similar to that of a large Australian city.”
Level 2: Exercise a high degree of caution
“Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for new risks.
At level 2, there are more or higher risks than what you would typically find in a large Australian city. We’re not saying ‘don’t go’ to this location. But you should do your research and take extra precautions.”
Level 3: Reconsider your need to travel
“Do your research and check that your insurer will cover you. If you do travel, take extra safety precautions.
At level 3, there are serious and potentially life-threatening risks. This can make the destination unsafe for tourism and unsuitable for most travellers.”
Level 4: Do not travel
“If you do travel, get professional security advice. Your travel insurance policy might be void. The Australian Government may not be able to help you.
At level 4, the security situation is extremely dangerous. There may be a high threat of terrorist attack, conflict, violent social unrest or critical levels of violent crime. It could be a combination of risks.”