Drownings of international tourists and immigrants have tripled in Australia over the past four years, prompting officials to begin a new campaign to warn visitors before they even step off the plane.
Australia‚Äôs National Coastal Safety Report released Thursday showed 26 international visitors or migrants drowned off the country‚Äôs shores during the 2009-2010 survey period, compared with nine international drowning deaths four years earlier. By comparison, drowning deaths were down overall with 82 during 2009-10, six below the five-year average of 88.
‚ÄúOur research indicates that this high risk group has limited English skills, a lack of knowledge about the beach, over-estimate their swimming ability, inadequate swimming skills and a general lack of surf safety awareness,‚ÄĚ said Brett Williamson, chief executive officer of Surf Life Saving Australia, which released Thursday‚Äôs report.
Airlines including Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Garuda, Malaysia Airlines, South African Airways and China Airlines will show warning videos about the Australian surf as part of pre-landing briefings, the group said.
Warnings will be translated into Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean and Malay.
‚ÄúI have witnessed many tourists on Australian beaches getting into trouble simply because they don‚Äôt know the basic swimming rules such as swimming between the red and yellow flags. To many Australians these rules seem like second nature, but they are not to international visitors,‚ÄĚ said Stephanie Gilmore, a world champion surfer and ambassador for the safety campaign.