Holiday hotspots on travel warning list

Floods in Thailand, murder in Kenya and potential terrorist attacks in India have led Australians to reassess their holiday plans.

The world can look a scary place for the traveller about to embark on an overseas journey. So where is safe to go?

For Australian citizens, the safety of foreign countries is ranked by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and presented on the Smartraveller website.

The information is based on reports from its network of embassies and consulates abroad, and on expert advice from other countries.

DFAT ranks the security status of each country into five categories - be alert to own security; exercise caution; high degree of caution; reconsider your need to travel; and do not travel.

"Be alert to own security" applies to most countries considered safe.

The US Department of State, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Foreign Affairs Canada, and various other foreign governments, also issue travel advice.

The criteria used by foreign governments to assess travel risk can be different from that used by DFAT.

Currently, DFAT's "do not travel" category lists 11 countries - Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

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DFAT's "reconsider your need to travel" category currently lists 20 countries.

The FCO lists three countries as no-go zones (Somalia, Syria and Yemen) and parts of 33 other countries.

The US State Department does not categorise countries; it just issues a one-size-fits-all "travel warning". Currently the US State Department warns against travel to 33 countries.

One of the factors that can prompt the US State Department to issue a warning is if one of its embassies close, which would restrict the ability of the US government to evacuate its citizens.

Countries popular with Australian travellers and DFAT's risk assessment:

THAILAND

Australians have been advised to reconsider their need to travel to the Thai capital Bangkok because of floodwaters. The floods, which began in July, are the heaviest in Thailand in more than half a century and have drenched a third of the country's provinces.

DFAT's overall advice for Thailand is exercise "high degree of caution", while it recommends all travellers to "reconsider their need" to travel to Bangkok and flood affected provinces, warning of transport disruptions and reduced access to essential services.

EGYPT

The tourism sector in Egypt has been suffering since the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February.

DFAT advises Australian to "reconsider your need for travel" to Egypt, warning of the unsettled security situation and the high threat of terrorist attack.

INDIA

DFAT has issued a travel advisory warning travellers against visiting India this festive season. DFAT's overall advice for India is exercise a "high degree of caution" due to the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups.

India's government has raised objections to the advisory, saying the language used in the notice is "disproportionate".

KENYA

The east African country's tourism industry is facing difficult times as it tries to halt a drop in visitor numbers following a series of attacks on travellers and aid-workers near the Somali-Kenya border.

DFAT's overall advice for Kenya is exercise a "high degree of caution" due to the risk of a terrorist attack. It says "do not travel" to certain areas, such as Kenya's border regions with Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

JAPAN

DFAT has eased up on its Japan travel warning in recent months.

A 8.9-magnitude quake hit northeast Japan on March 11, causing a tsunami that slammed into the Fukushima nuclear plant.

DFAT's overall advice for Japan is "be alert to own security", while it recommends all travellers "do not travel" within 30km of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

AAP

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