Your questions

Question

I'm keen to travel through the Middle East but am concerned about safety. Where can I get up-to-date information about countries such as Israel and Iran? Also, are there reputable tour companies you'd recommend?

- M. Tchernych, Caulfield.

Answer

The official source of information on travel safety is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Its site, smartraveller.gov.au, has detailed advice on every international destination.

DFAT is often accused of being too cautious in its advice but if you're travelling for pleasure rather than necessity, it makes sense to err on the side of caution.

Israel and Iran both have “high degree of caution” warnings, which means you should be aware of the risk of terrorist attacks and avoid protests and other public gatherings. The Gaza Strip and West Bank carry the highest level of warning and should be avoided altogether.

There are also areas of Iran that should be avoided – check the smartraveller site for details – although Iran is emerging as a hot destination for travellers looking for something different.

A place worth considering is the Sultanate of Oman, which has a lower-level warning from DFAT and has the advantage of having a tourist office in Australia. Contact Oman Tourism on (02) 9286 8930 or see omantourism.gov.om. They can help you with tour operator recommendations.

For tour operators, try to go through each country's tourist office, or book through a travel company such as Adventure World. For details, see adventureworld.com.au.

- Jane E. Fraser

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