The holiday travel season has officially begun, but before embarking on your much-anticipated journey, it’s important to pay attention to travel advisories issued by the Canadian government. Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs analyzes trends and issues affecting international travelers, monitors global events, and gathers updated reports from various sources to provide travel advice and recommendations. All of this information is available online at travel.gc.ca.
Patricia Marques, an expert in the travel industry and the Chief Operating Officer of the Travel and Retail Call Center at CAA North & East Ontario, suggests that people always check the website before planning their trips.
Currently, there are 21 destinations classified as places Canadians should “avoid traveling to,” including Russia, Ukraine, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, and Venezuela. Travelers are advised to avoid all trips to Venezuela due to “significant levels of violent crime, unstable economic and political situations, and deteriorating basic living conditions, including shortages of medication, fuel, and water.”
Travel advice also notes that the security environment is “unstable” at the border between Venezuela and Guyana due to territorial disputes in the Guayana Esequiba region. The Canadian government advises citizens not to discuss the disputes and to follow local media for updates on the evolving situation.
There are nine destinations that Canadians are advised to “avoid non-essential travel” to, including Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. In Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, officials state various risk levels depending on the area “due to ongoing regional conflicts and unpredictable security situations.”
People are advised to avoid all trips to Gaza, avoid all trips to areas of the Golan Heights bordering Syria, east of Highway 98, and avoid all trips within 5 km of the borders with Egypt, Lebanon, and much of the West Bank. Meanwhile, there are 92 destinations where Canadians are advised to exercise “a high degree of caution,” including France, Egypt, China, Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, and Cuba.
In Cuba, individuals should exercise a high degree of caution due to shortages of basic necessities, including food, medicines, and fuel, amid the decade-long US trade embargo against the Caribbean nation.
In addition to considering safety risks, it’s crucial to note that travel insurance will not cover you if you travel to a destination with a travel advisory. Whether you are taking a road trip or flying abroad, travel health insurance is still essential as medical treatment costs overseas are significantly higher than at home.
According to Marques’ advice, emergency medical travel insurance is necessary not only for those traveling abroad but also for those traveling within Canada – as certain types of treatment may be covered in one province or territory and not available elsewhere in the country.