Warning doesn't keep Aussies from visiting Canada
Updated Fri. Jan. 25 2008 3:22 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
The Australian high commissioner to Canada said the country remained a top destination for Aussie tourists despite a government website that warned visitors should "exercise caution."
William Fisher said Canada still ranks as the top "dream destination" for Australian tourists. More than 200,000 Australians visit Canada each year.
"People vote with their feet and their money," William Fisher told CTV Newsnet on Friday. "If you go to Whistler these days, you're hard pressed to find a Canadian." An Australian government website lists Canada as a country where travellers need to be cautious about terrorism, dangerous winter driving and cold weather conditions.
The 'Smart Traveller' website, run by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, lists Chile, South Korea and Latvia as countries safer than Canada.
Overall, Canada is listed in the second safest category (out of five categories) on the website -- the 'Exercise caution' section. Out of the G8 nations, the U.S., U.K, France, Germany and Italy also are listed in the 'Exercise caution' category.
"We advise you to exercise caution and monitor developments that might affect your safety in Canada because of the risk of terrorist attack," says the travel advisory.
"Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks."
Fisher said the terrorist threat warning is not specific to Canada, and has been posted for about three years.
"The warning is a general one for all western countries, and it followed some quite nasty statements by al Qaeda," Fisher said. "Poor old Canada is, just like the rest of us, a western country."
The website also warns that "heavy snowfalls and ice in the winter" can make driving dangerous.
"The wind-chill factor can also create dangerously cold outdoor conditions," says the warning.
Fisher, who lives in Ottawa, told CTV Newsnet he enjoys the winter but is somewhat jealous of Toronto's weather, which he jokingly referred to as Canada's "subtropical south." Avalanches, earthquakes, and fires
Meanwhile, B.C. and Alberta are both listed as being subject to avalanches. B.C. is also listed as "an active earthquake zone."
Travellers heading to Canada between May and September are also told to look out for tornadoes in some areas.
The website further warns about bush and forest fires which "can occur any time in Canada."
The advisory says crime in Canada is comparable to that in Australia, with petty crime such as pick pocketing and street theft occurring at tourist destinations and hotels.
Japan has the safest ranking of the G8 nations, falling into the first category, 'Be alert to own security.' Russia is listed as the most dangerous of the G8 countries, ranking in the third category -- 'High degree of caution.'
On the website for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, there is no official warning for Australia. However, travellers are advised to watch out for pickpockets and to avoid demonstrations because they could "turn violent."
There are also warnings for backpackers about attacks and travellers are advised not to accept food and drinks from strangers at bars.