Aussie embassies crack down on ‘pest’ tourists, won’t help pay for hookers
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warned Australians on Wednesday that they cannot rely on the embassy to bail them out of trouble whenever need be. The new policy will provide minimal consular services to travelers who willfully or negligently get themselves into scrapes. Bishop also said the ministry was considering instating a fee for consular assistance, reports AP.
Bishop explained that many tourists misunderstand the point of consular services and seek embassy help solving private matters. The minister unscored the need for “self-reliance and personal responsibility” among travelers.
"There are people we would describe colloquially as serial pests who are constantly bouncing back into the embassy because they've run out of money or they've got some sort of other personal problem and they often come to the embassy and the consular teams expecting us to solve their problems for them," Bishop said.
The minister said that some of the requests fielded by embassies are so outlandish, they’ll “bring tears to your eyes.”
“Our consular staff are not there to pay for the repairs to your jet ski,” Bishop said. “They are not there to pay your hotel bill,” Bishop said, listing actual traveler queries. “They are not there to lend you a laptop or to provide you with office space in the embassy for you to do your work. Consular officers cannot get you out of jail or issue you with a passport so you can evade justice. Consular assistance is a last-resort service.”
Among some of the stranger requests, foreign ministry officials report the case of one traveler who asked that embassy help remove a polecat from her roof.
Ministry official, Anita Downey, recalled one man who waltzed into an embassy in Bangkok, with a prostitute in tow, and asked embassy personnel for a loan to pay for services rendered. Officials say such cases are not uncommon in the Thai capital—home to Australia’s busiest embassy.
Downey added that embassies in Los Angeles, Bali, Manila, and Dubai are also blitzed with bizarre queries.
Some 1,300 Australians receive assistance from Australian embassies around the globe daily, and officials have said that the number of strange requests has been on the rise in recent years. Bishop reassured travelers that those genuinely needing help would receive it. The new assistance guidelines are meant to help embassy staff, who Bishop admitted sometimes approved unusual requests because it was easier than challenging the disgruntled travelers.