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How to stay safe during niche trips

By Zhu Wenqian | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-03 09:34
The frosty blue hues of the lakes are reflected inside the glaciers. These incredible shots were captured by Johann Helgason from Hafnarfjordur, Iceland. [Photo/IC]

Propelled by rising purchasing power and evolving tastes, more and more Chinese travelers are willing to visit niche destinations overseas, industry insiders said.

Niche places are unfamiliar destinations that nevertheless offer remarkable lifetime experiences, they said.

So, concerns over safety and security at such less-visited places are being addressed by the industry. How to guard against natural and man-made disasters - that's receiving prime attention.

More so after Aug 5, when an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude on the Richter scale hit Indonesian island Lombok. The tremors damaged buildings and caused hundreds of deaths. Visiting Chinese tourists were not among the casualties though.

Located to the east of Bali island, Lombok is not so well known in China. But, it mainly attracts some hardcore lovers of tropical islands, who go there for hiking and photography.

Travel agencies barely organize group tours to Lombok, given the low demand, limited number of local hotels and ordinary transportation, according to Ctrip, China's largest online travel agency.

Yet, the number of Chinese travelers visiting Lombok on their own is rising gradually, some observers said.

This summer, the number of tourists who booked individual tours to Lombok on Ctrip surged more than 100 percent over last summer, and more than half of them are young tourists aged between 30 and 39, Ctrip said, without sharing the absolute numbers.

Of late, geological hazards like quakes and volcano eruptions have increased in and around Indonesian destinations such as Bali and Lombok. So, thorough research is necessary before embarking on niche tours. Tourists must avoid danger-prone areas like those with heightened volcanic activity, and steer clear of boat rides in stormy weather conditions, experts said.

Tourists should also learn some basic self-help and survival techniques for any potential emergencies in secluded or remote spots as communication and immediate rescue could be difficult there, they said.

Similarly, tourists should guard against robberies, tour booking frauds, traffic accidents, and yachting mishaps, particularly in some countries such as Thailand, which are notorious for such incidents, said Huize, China's largest third-party insurance platform.

In Thailand, two tourist boats, carrying a total of 122 Chinese tourists, sank in rough seas on July 5. All 35 Chinese passengers on one boat were rescued while 47 out of 87 Chinese passengers on the other boat died.

Thailand has remained one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists in the past few years, given its relatively cheaper prices, easier visa policies and proximity, according to Ctrip.

Iceland tops the list of safest destinations. The average annual insurance compensation claims rate was just 2.1 percent between 2016 and so far this year.

Other tourism destinations that boast safety are Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan, Huize found.

Tourists who went to Chile, France and Spain have reported large number of robbery cases, and travelers in the United States have reported cases of harm to property and personal safety incidents.

Travelers visiting Brazil frequently reported street violence and infectious diseases.

So, it is essential to buy destination-specific travel insurance products, in addition to taking necessary precautions, experts said.

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