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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Young Britons warned to pay heed to local customs when travelling

Lured to far-flung destinations that they see in celebrity magazines, only two in five check Foreign Office travel advice

Hundreds of thousands of young Britons now travel to far-flung destinations such as Dubai without finding out about local social mores and customs. Pawan Singh/The National
Hundreds of thousands of young Britons now travel to far-flung destinations such as Dubai without finding out about local social mores and customs. Pawan Singh/The National

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has cautioned young Britons from travelling to far-flung locations around the globe that they see celebrities visiting without properly familiarising themselves with the local customs.

The FCO conducted research which showed that 33% of 18 to 24-year-olds were influenced by celebrities when preparing for their holiday this Easter. But many will end up holidaying in countries which have radically different cultural norms.

Travel advice is provided by the FCO on their website about what can be expected in different countries, but just 38% of young people check out the recommendations before they fly out.

More Britons than ever before are travelling to non-European destinations that have stricter laws and customs than the UK. Visits to Sri Lanka are up more than a fifth (22%) and the UAE up by 17%.

In Sri Lanka it is considered a serious offence to mistreat images that are scared in the Buddhist religion – which means that tourists with tattoos of Buddha have been turned away from the country.

An in the UAE, swearing and making rude gestures, in real life and online, can lead to offenders being jailed or deported.

Jack White, celeb content director at Now magazine said: “We’ve all felt the pang of envy that comes from scrolling through a celebrity’s luxury holiday snaps on social media, but if you’re ever lucky enough to end up in Dubai or St Lucia it’s worth remembering different countries have different rules – and sometimes even the stars seem unaware of this.

“It’s easy to get caught up the moment on holiday, so it’s worth researching the local laws beforehand to make sure your dream trip doesn’t end in disaster. After all, there’s definitely nothing glamorous about ending up behind bars!”

Julia Longbottom, FCO consular director said that while “it’s great to see the British people being inspired to travel to new and exciting places. This makes it all the more important to follow our Travel Advice and respect local laws and customs to avoid unnecessary trouble. For instance, e-cigarettes are banned in Thailand and can result in a prison sentence of up to ten years.

“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 traveling and avoid ending up in these difficult situations.