The Countries That Jailed The Most Australian Tourists In The Last Year

Australians love to travel but more than 1500 were arrested or jailed overseas in the last year, with the majority being stung for sex, drugs and fraud offences.

Fraud and drug cases are the most common reasons Australians were imprisoned overseas between 2018-19, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has revealed, in a report outlining where travellers got into the most trouble and needed consular assistance.

DFAT's annual Consular State Of Play report shows drug-related arrests of Australians in Thailand have ballooned by 125 per cent in 2018-19, with 36 people detained by police on drug issues.

In Japan, 22 Australians were arrested in drug cases.

While more than 1500 travellers were arrested overseas last year, plenty ended up in jail, with DFAT assisting 379 Australians imprisoned overseas.

DFAT has revealed how many Australians got in trouble overseas in 2018-19. Image: Getty

Fifty Australians were detained in China, most on fraud or drugs charges, and 42 in Vietnam, almost all on drugs charges.

In the United States, 45 Australians were jailed, with almost half said to be on sex offences.

Thirty-one Aussies were jailed in New Zealand, most on assault, sexual assault or drugs charges; and 27 in Indonesia, almost all drug-related.

"Travellers should always be aware of what is in their bags, especially when crossing international borders. They should not carry anything for someone else while travelling," DFAT warned.

"Australians who need to take medication on a trip should check if it is legal in countries they are visiting and make sure they have paperwork, such as a doctor’s letter or prescription."

Thailand is a popular destination for Aussie tourists, but some are injured, arrested or jailed if they're not careful. Image: Getty
Hospital Visits

South-east Asia was also a dangerous destination for Australians in the last year, with the most hospitalisation cases coming from there.

In Thailand, 178 Aussies ended up in hospital, with another 141 in Indonesia and 68 in Vietnam.

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In the USA, 85 Australians were hospitalised, and 88 in New Caledonia -- this was attributed to "the continued popularity of cruises in the Pacific, with an older demographic more vulnerable to illness or accident."

In total, 1506 Aussies were hospitalised across the globe last year.

DFAT has warned travellers to obey local laws. Image: Getty

The DFAT report also outlines a number of other interesting numbers to do with Australia's obsession with travel.

Aussies took more than 11.2 million international trips in 2018-19, a five per cent increase of the 10.7 million the year prior. Just five years ago, the number was 9.3 million.

The top destinations for travel include:

  • New Zealand: 1.444 million trips
  • Indonesia: 1.310 million
  • USA: 1.078 million
  • United Kingdom: 667,800
  • China: 610,900
  • Thailand: 565,300

The biggest travelling age group was 45-54, making up 17.6 per cent of all overseas trips taken by Australians.

Crisis Assistance 

DFAT provides consular assistance to Australians in trouble or injured overseas, with 13,715 cases on the department's books last year.

More than 4500 of these were linked to 'crisis response', a 130 per cent increase on the previous year, as Australians sought assistance following horrific incidents like the Sri Lanka Easter church bombings, and the Christchurch mosque attack.

"Such major incidents result in a surge of inquiries from people trying to locate Australians overseas," DFAT said.

"For Sri Lanka especially, with the ban on social media following the attacks, people turned to us to check on the safety of their loved ones."

Security forces inspect the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21. Image: Getty
Thefts And Assaults 

There were Aussie involved 257 thefts reported to DFAT last year, with Italy (73), Spain (16), Japan (11) and the USA and United Arab Emirates (10 each) leading the list. Of 268 assaults reported, 17 were in Thailand and 13 in Indonesia.



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Elsewhere, DFAT rendered assistance in 2804 welfare cases, 23 repatriations, and 1695 deaths.

"Most deaths are a result of an illness or natural causes, possibly due to an aging population travelling more and retiring overseas," the department said.

Obey Or Else

While overseas arrest cases have spiked 25 per cent in the last five years, DFAT warned that it could help in some situations, but not all.

DFAT says Australians need to know the laws in the country they are visiting. Image: Getty

"We cannot provide legal advice, get Australians better treatment than local prisoners, get them out of prison or detention, or stop them being deported," the department said.

"Australians need to know and obey local laws."

Aussies were warned to never carry or consume illegal drugs overseas, to report lost or stolen passports immediately, and to know and obey local laws.

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