Foreign Office issues travel warning to millennials over local customs

Foreign Office issues travel warning to millennials over local customs

A rise in the number of arrests of Brits abroad for drug offences and offending local customs has prompted the Foreign Office to issue a warning to millennials.

The UK government has acted after increasing interest among younger travellers to visit more exotic, far-flung places, often inspired by celebrities.

However, the Foreign Office says it had to deal with 23,000 cases of Brits getting arrested while overseas in 2016/17, up from 17,000 two years previously.

Many are getting into trouble for failing to respect local laws and customs and not checking what behaviour is acceptable before they go.

Government data also shows a rise in drug-related arrests of 8.7%, and an increase of 7.1 per cent in overall arrests and detentions between 2015/16 and the following year.

The Foreign Office says behaviour considered acceptable in the UK like drinking, smoking and swearing can get visitors in trouble with the police in some foreign countries.

Examples of local laws Brits should be aware of include:

• Smoking and drinking alcohol is banned in Ukraine in all public places;
• In the United Arab Emirates swearing with words or gestured can lead to jail or being deported;
• Australia has strict quarantine rules to keep unwanted pests and disease out of the country;
• In Greece raucous behaviour including mooning can lead to arrest, a fine or even prison;
• Visitors to Sri Lanka should respect Buddhist images and not pose for photos with statues of a Buddha. Visible tattoos of Buddha could mean refused entry or deportation;
• Thailand has banned e-cigarettes and refills from being brought into the country and could impose fines or prison sentences of up to 10 years;
• In Japan some commonly used medicines like Vicks inhalers and painkillers including Codeine are banned;
• Many Caribbean countries, such as Barbados, St Vincent, and Saint Lucia ban the wearing of camouflage clothing;
• In Turkey insulting the national flag or destroying currency could lead to a three-year jail sentence.

A government survey showed that one-third of 18-24 year-olds were inspired in their choice of holiday by celebrities.

However, just 38% checked official travel advice before going away.

Julia Longbottom, FCO consular director, said: “We see many cases each year of people breaking local laws and customs.

“It is important that our travellers understand that the UK Government can’t give legal advice or get them out of prison.

“Instead, we want to do all we can to help British people stay safe when they are travelling, and avoid ending up in these difficult situations.”

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