British behaviour abroad - Foreign Office reports

September 08, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel News
A lack of travel insurance and inadequate preparation compound the hazards faced by many Britons abroad, according to the Foreign Office's new British Behaviour Abroad report.

The Foreign Office's latest British Behaviour Abroad report shows that Britons are still getting into preventable problems abroad. The report is based on incident figures reported by British visitors and residents to FCO offices around the world between April 2009 and March 2010.

Whilst lost or stolen passports were by far the most frequent problem encountered by British tourists and residents (27,272 reported incidents worldwide), other more serious problems highlighted by the report include drink and drug-related arrests, high numbers of road traffic accidents, and extremely high treatment and repatriation bills resulting from a lack of adequate travel insurance.

Arrests and drug offences

The report shows high numbers of drink (1) and drug related cases: 944 Brits were arrested for drug-related offences last year, accounting for a seventh of all arrests of British Nationals around the globe.

Lack of preparation

Separate FCO research (2) also highlights a risky lack of preparation, leading to many preventable incidents. Research found that Britons are spending an average £12.00 at the airport on magazines and sweets more than double the cost of a standard single trip insurance policy (3) yet one in five (19%) (4) are still travelling without travel insurance. Britons are also spending nearly twenty minutes longer cleaning their house before they go abroad (46 minutes), than they do researching the local laws and customs of where they are travelling to.

Travel trends

Spain is at the top of the list for consular assistance cases (5,283), although as a proportion of British visitors and residents, most assistance was needed by Britons in Thailand (957), Pakistan (273), and Cyprus (736). There were 563 British deaths in Germany and 471 Britons hospitalised in Greece. In addition to assistance cases, FCO staff around the world dealt with 1.95m consular enquiries last year.(5)

Preventable problems

With so many of the reported incidents being preventable, the FCO is appealing to British Nationals travelling or going to live abroad to make some simple preparations before they go in order to minimise preventable problems.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, said:
"This report shines a light on the number of Britons who get into difficulty abroad each year. The worrying fact is that so many of these situations are preventable. Helping out Britons in trouble abroad is part of our job, but we can‟t get you out of jail or pay your hospital bills.

A bit of preparation before you go, such as arranging travel insurance and checking our website, will ensure you get the most out of your trip without bad memories and big bills.

The message from the Foreign Office is clear have a great time while travelling or living abroad, but make the necessary preparations before you go."

Further information

1 There are no official figures for alcohol-related incidents but feedback from FCO staff around the world consistently reveals that alcohol contributes to many arrests and hospitalisations abroad. FCO staff also commented that excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to disrespectful behaviour which can cause difficulties between locals and British travellers.

2 Research commissioned by FCO and carried out by RedShift research in June 2010, based on a UK sample of 1,000 people

3 Based on the value of the Post Office‟s standard single trip insurance policy, available online June 2010 for £5.50

4 Based on Gfk NOP research commissioned by the FCO in June 2010

5 An enquiry is a request for information that doesn't usually require any further action from the FCO staff concerned. A case requires action to assist the individual in dealing with whatever situation they face.