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The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of Intrepid. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. Intrepid makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources.
The level of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) travel advisory. For any Intrepid Travel operated trip if this advisory is at Level 4 'Do Not Travel' then Intrepid will either cancel a trip or reroute the itinerary to avoid the areas concerned.
With over 400 leaders on the ground in operational destinations and subsidiary companies in our main hub cities, Intrepid has access to a up to the minute flow of information as to the mood and feelings within the countries we work in.
We are also in regular contact with the various operators we use. Their in depth knowledge and understanding of their various areas is vital.
Other Government travel advisories:
Since the start of November 2013, there have been a number of political demonstrations that have taken place in locations around Bangkok and other parts of Thailand. The main protest area was along Rachadamnoen Avenue including Democracy Monument in Bangkok, however this has also expanded to a number of government buildings in central Bangkok. There is an arrest warrant for the Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and in the event that he is arrested this may increase the protest numbers and locations.
As anticipated, the protests grew on the weekend (30 Nov-01 Dec) which resulted in some violence in very isolated areas. The government has advised its supporters to not gather as a group and to avoid further violence.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure the safety of our passengers and staff at all times and if required will relocate passengers to areas well away from the protests.
On 4th Dec, the Thai government ordered police confronting anti-government protesters to stand down to avoid violence so police pulled down the barricades which allowed the protesters to enter the grounds of the Government House and the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau. This was a peaceful step and the violence has stopped.
Protesters have now moved out of the the Khao Sarn area (where many of our hotels are located) and have assisted council workers with the clean-up for the King’s birthday parade on 5th Dec.
There are a large number of standby protesters in the suburb of Chaeng Wattana which is well away from the areas we visit on our tours. If a deal is not brokered in the next few days, there is a chance that more protest will occur although these are not expected to take place in and around the areas we currently visit on our tours.
In conjunction with our local office in Bangkok, we will continue to monitor the situation carefully.
Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on Friday 8 November 2013 causing a significant number of casualties and widespread damage in parts of the Leyte and Eastern Samar areas. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes and have been displaced. There was also damage reported in other parts of the central Philippines however the big centres of Manila and Cebu City were not badly affected by the typhoon.
We had no tours operating in the Philippines at the time when the typhoon struck. The next departure of Intrepid’s Philippines Discovery tour (TTSL) will be commence on 30 November 2013. The areas and provinces which the tour covers: Luzon, including the Ifugao Province that covers Banaue, Sagada and Baguio, Tarlac, Pampanga and Zambales (Mt. Pinatubo), Puerto Galera were undamaged by the typhoon. In 2014 the Philippines Discovery tour will include Boracay - Borocay predominantly dodged the typhoon with only some damage to the island with a few trees being uprooted and rooftops of a number of shanties blowing away but there were no human casualties. All 2013 and 2014 departures of our Philippines tour will continue as planned.
After passing through the Philippines, the typhoon hit the north of Vietnam on Monday 11th November by which time it had decreased in strength wand was downgraded it to a Category One storm. Vietnam is a country that is well used to tropical storms and typhoons with this being the 14th storm of the season. Destruction in Vietnam was not a severe as initially expected.
Intrepid has several trips running in Vietnam at the moment and we have rearranged itineraries and moved our groups out of the potential danger areas. Most interruptions have been to the Halong Bay area where we have had to cancel or delay boat excursions in Halong bay and instead organise alternate travel arrangements to unaffected areas. As of Tuesday 12th November, local authorities have allowed boats to continue normal operation in Halong Bay and all itineraries from this date onwards will resume as per normal.
The Australian Government travel advisory for Syria remains at the highest precautionary level, 'Do Not Travel'.
The following trips are cancelled indefinitely until the situation improves:
Cairo to Istanbul (XESV)
Middle East Adventure (XESXC)
Istanbul to Amman (EERT)
Istanbul to Cairo (EERVC)
Explore Syria (EESS)
Lebanon & Syria (EESGC)
Syria & Jordan (EESKC)
For further information please see the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Syria