Britain citizens were recently warned on the safety and security issues facing tourist going to Austria for holidays. According to the ‘foreign travel advice’ blog post on the UK’s Foreign and Common Wealth office (FCO) website, citizens should take extra caution while traveling to these destinations.
This warning was issued after several incidents of insecurity involving tourists occurred in Austria. The FCO is a government organization that helps its citizens makes decisions about foreign travel. They give the necessary information that might help a tourist have a comfortable trip to the country of their choice. This information includes local laws and customs, immigration controls, emergency call line, and safety and security information. They also have information custom made for any kind of tourist from the UK.
Recently, there have been many deaths that involved tourists in Austria. Last week, the bodies of three German skiers were found buried in the snow buy mountain rescuers on Saturday night after they had been reported missing. They were swept away in an avalanche that occurred in the Austrian Alps. The fourth member of the group is still missing. According to the news report, the skiers tried deploying protective equipment, including airbags but were buried in the snow. In addition, in 2017 there were 413 road deaths in Austria according to the department of transport.
With around 980000 British nationalist traveling to Austria every year, FCO’s primary job is to ensure the safety of the UK’s tourist is not compromised, and these instances prompted the FCO to give safety guidance.
The following safety and security advice was given to anyone planning to travel to Austria.
Travelers were advised not to leave their valuables unattended in spite of the low crime rate in Austria. They were told to be vigilant around major transport hubs and city Centers Park, watching out on pick-picketers. Emphasis was placed on those traveling on a train.
Hiking, mountaineering, and other popular activities have proved to be popular activities for tourists visiting Austria. However, they are also the ones with most incidents of visitors getting into trouble and needing help from emergency services. FCO gave the following advice concerning such activities:
“If you are taking part in extreme sports, check whether the company is well established in the industry and that you have arranged for your insurance to cover this specific activity.”
“For sporting activities such as skiing, potholing, and mountaineering; for sports that are termed dangerous (off-piste skiing, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding or BASE jumping) your insurance should include mountain rescue services, helicopter cost and repatriation to your country of residence or possible transfer to neighboring countries for treatment.”
Following the heavy snow that has hit the Austrian Alps, there have been cases of avalanches, which have cut off local roads and have led to the death of the German skiers last week. Skiing is, therefore, a bit risk now in Austria. FCO advised travelers to seek advice on weather and safety conditions from reliable sources before going to ski. More so, one is to check with the local tourist offices on the current snow conditions and all the safety instructions.
“Avalanche beepers are the most common rescue devices and when properly used, provide the fastest way of locating an avalanche victim.”
Travelers were advised to inquire about the risk of an occurring avalanche from TirolAvalancheWarningServices or the EuropeanAvalancheServises.
The FCO advised on the best way to use the Austria roads while traveling; primary concern like always having your full British license, ownership documents, and insurance details. On issues concerning road safety the FCO advice;
“A map, compass, GPS, and telecommunication equipment should always be used when traveling outside urban areas.”
“Do not undertake any activity alone, and consider hiring a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone.”
“The legal drink driving limit in Austria is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood for coach/HGV drivers and those who have had a license for less than two years..”
“You must carry high visibility warning vest and wear it when exiting the vehicle on the hard shoulder or in the event of a breakdown.”
“You must have a first aid kit and warning triangle inside the car.”
Despite all these insecurity threats, Austria has still ranked the place where most Britons spend their holidays. Ironically, they see it as a peaceful place and enjoy the tranquility amid the Alpine terrain and the beautiful mountain villages. In fact, Austria was flagged as one of the countries where Britons could flee potential World War 3: this was after the tension between the United States of America and Iran.
However, one cannot ignore the effects that have been brought about by avalanches. There have been numerous deaths that have resulted from avalanches apart from the recent one involving Germans. A father and his daughter were killed in the French Alps when an avalanche swept them away while skiing. Two other skiers were rescued the following day with minor injuries after an avalanche took place on a mountain ridge known as Col de Fenestral in the Finhaunt region of the Canton of Valais near the Swiss-French border. The local authorities had initially reported ten skiers missing but the number reduced to two. The FCO had also offered a warning to their travelers concerning the above incidents.
Apart from deaths, Avalanches have also interrupted tourist visit. In Switzerland, an avalanche left tourist stranded after cutting a road and rail that links to Zermatt. Snow dropped over the area for more than 24 hours, causing the tourist in the area to be airlifted. The most affected tourists were guests at the famous Swiss resort of Zermatt: the tourists who were at the base of the famous Matterhorn Mountain were estimated to be 1300 in number. Most shockingly, according to AP news agency, the airlift was not part of an official evacuation; it was only aimed at transporting those in need and bring supplies to the stranded visitors.