The danger facing young Aussie travellers

There's an activity Australian travellers continue to participate in despite the dangers.
There's an activity Australian travellers continue to participate in despite the dangers. Photo: AP

Young Australians are needlessly putting their lives at risk. It's come to my attention that there's a rush of tourists heading overseas to participate in an activity that is known to cause injuries, or death, and there seems to be no stopping it.

People hurt themselves doing it all the time. You hear about broken legs, or dislocated shoulders, cuts and bruises. Young people are doing this with little idea of what can happen to them, flagrantly putting themselves at unknown risk in the name of "fun".

And the local governments don't seem to care. Almost every week you hear about someone being seriously injured, of people requiring emergency medical care that is sometimes hours away, and the local governments do nothing.

The reasoning, I guess, is that if Westerners want to come into their country and knowingly take these risks then they should be able to cope with the consequences. They're happy to have the money coming in from tourist dollars, regardless of what those tourists do to themselves in their country.

And that's not the worst of it. Trouble is, alcohol can become involved, often sold at the very same place that people are participating in these activities. Drugs, too, can be freely available, sometimes consumed in the very act of participation.

It's a recipe for disaster.

The locals often don't participate. They're not interested in this crazy Western pastime. At best it gives them jobs, a way to make some money. But there's a price, because at worst it changes their formerly sleepy little villages into cesspits of drinking and debauchery.

Where once you would have found a few locals hanging out with their families, living a decent, quiet life, you now find bars filled with backpackers and other tourists drinking themselves into a stupor, falling out onto the streets and abusing people.

And then the next day they're out again, injuring themselves, occasionally killing themselves, in their immature attempts at having a good time.

The pastime I'm referring to, of course, is skiing. You rarely read about it on Smart Traveller, for some reason, but it's responsible for hundreds and hundreds of serious injuries to travelling Australians every year.

Some insurers, believe it or not, won't even cover you if you decide to engage in this activity. They'll make you pay extra. And yet people still do it.

Our government should be outraged, should be doing something to put a stop to this – trouble is, it even happens under our noses, in our own country. People young and old putting themselves in harm's way for no good reason.

You might compare it to the "tubing" incidents in Laos that have affected a few Australians recently, but it's far more insidious and widespread than that. It's out of control – you can ski in almost any country, and the vast percentage of them have alcohol readily available for people to consume while they're out on the slopes.

How many injuries, how many deaths do we need to have before someone puts a stop to this? I call on the government to clamp down right now on skiing, to prevent more Australians unwittingly putting themselves in danger.

Something must be done.

*Please note, this satirical post isn't intended to make light of the recent tubing-related deaths in Laos, but to point out that many people engage in dangerous activities when they're travelling – some more socially acceptable than others.

Follow Ben Groundwater on Twitter @bengroundwater

Email: bengroundwater@gmail.com

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