How crazy tourists drive em­bassies mad — and bank­rupt their fami

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

AUS­TRALIAN tourists are in­un­dat­ing our em­bassies with ridicu­lous, im­pos­si­ble and down­right weird re­quests.

In a re­cent speech to an Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Travel Writ­ers con­fer­ence in Bangkok, First Sec­re­tary and Con­sul in the Aus­tralian Em­bassy in Thai­land Anita Downey had the au­di­ence roar­ing with laugh­ter — and som­brely re­flect­ing on the value of travel in­sur­ance as she out­lined life deal­ing with tourists.

Ms Downey said the fed­eral govern­ment’s smar­trav­ web­site is a great re­source and 400,000 peo­ple looked at the Thai­land sec­tion last year, but only for an av­er­age of two min­utes at a time.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t un­der­stand what we do,” Ms Downey said.

“Re­cent ques­tions in­clude the email from a woman ask­ing: ‘Can you check where Mar­jorie is?’ — that was it, Mar­jorie. The woman was wor­ried be­cause she had not heard from her.

“One said: ‘My ho­tel is noisy, can you please call them and com­plain’.

“My per­sonal favourite was a gen­tle­man who had a lady friend with him and they had spent the pre­vi­ous night to­gether but he had run out of money so could we pay her on his be­half? I’m sure as Aus­tralian tax­pay­ers you will be pleased to learn the an­swer was ‘no’. He had to make his own ar­range­ments.”

Funny anec­dotes aside, Ms Downey out­lined the se­ri­ous work con­sular of­fi­cials do, and how Aussies can save them­selves heartache with a lit­tle com­mon sense.

She stressed proper travel in­sur­ance, which cov­ers pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions and is not made void by al­co­hol, drugs, or risky be­hav­iour such as rid­ing a mo­tor­bike with­out a hel­met, is es­sen­tial.

“We spend a lot of our help fam­i­lies, ex­plain­ing to th to pay for hospi­tal care if th travel in­sur­ance — and a lo have no money,” she said.

“If you can’t pay you ge you have travel in­sur­ance y tastic level of care.

“In the in­ten­sive care un these hos­pi­tals you are look $10,000 a night.”

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