September 16th, 2010
10:03 AM ET

Australia warning tourists after drownings triple

The report cites tourists with limited English and knowledge of the beach and waves for the increase in drownings.

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’s National Coastal Safety Report released Thursday showed 26 international visitors or migrants drowned off the country’s 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.

“Our 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,” said Brett Williamson, chief executive officer of Surf Life Saving Australia, which released Thursday’s report.

Read the full report (PDF)

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.

“I have witnessed many tourists on Australian beaches getting into trouble simply because they don’t 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,” said Stephanie Gilmore, a world champion surfer and ambassador for the safety campaign.

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Filed under: Australia
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. buffalo

    We had (have) a similar problem here in Hawaii. People who have never even seen the ocean are drawn to it, but under-estimate the power of Hawaiian waves. I have watched several tourists get smashed in the shore-break. There are signs posted at most of the beach entrances but it's like a "moth to a flame" attraction, it seems.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheba

      YUP!! We were just in Maui and one of the guys with us was rushed to the hospital after playing at Big Beach...the power of the waves breaking on the beach was just amazing!!

      September 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John Nichols

    Crabs? I don't want crabs!!! Use "Crab", because "crabs" in English refers to crab lice. As well, "crab" is generally understood to refer to the species as a whole, and most people don't specify the type.

    This is typical poor journalistic grammar.

    September 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • gale

      I think you are on the wrong story.

      September 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sheikyerboutie

    Waves break counterclockwise down there.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gannon_1

    This is news why?

    September 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      hhmmm... To get the word out so that people who may be planning to travel to Australia become more aware and learn a few things about the Australia beach laws before they go... help them to stay safer... Duh

      September 17, 2010 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jason Glugla

    People need to respect the forces of nature in whichever country they are in. If we respected nature instead of fighting it, the human race would have much fewer problems.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    What gives? The seas off Australia are no more dangerous than other places around the world.

    September 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • seaman

      simply not true

      September 16, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      John ..lol we can tell you have never been

      September 17, 2010 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tom, Long Beach, California

    as a surfer, I respect the ocean. Riptides and waves are very powerful and fighting them will tax your strengtht and then disaster. Even after years of surfing, my paddling skills begin to diminish after 2 weeks out of the water. Respect the ocean or it may take you

    September 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      So true, Tom! I've learned to respect the ocean as a diver of many years. I see that there are two types of people who get in trouble – those who are unskillful and foolish, and those who are very skillful but overconfident. Skills come in time to those who respect the ocean; as for those who don't, well, they don't make it. There are more accidents happen on the shore breaks as well as on the dive boats, than in the open water.

      September 17, 2010 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Emily

    i thnk people need to be more careful and read the signs. everyone knows that there are powerful waves and riptides if u respect and the warnings you wont get hurt. just look at the millions of other people that swimthere and not al of them drown.

    September 16, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Emily

    i agree with u buck.

    September 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chri2079

    buck thats so wrong man

    September 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. timmb47

    So they are warning to be careful while swiming make's sense what iwant toknow is why these people died over exeration drunk or what?

    September 16, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Valeriy

      Because their reading skills were similar to you writing skills.

      September 16, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh yes

      @Valery: a good one! Thank you. 😛

      September 17, 2010 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. gloria

    People unaware of the ocean and how dangerous it can be,need to educate themselves.Alot of children drown because their parents are also ignorant of the waters and how dangerous riptides and currents can be. I live on the Outer Banks of N.C. and some waters are more dangerous than others. Learn safety measures.

    September 16, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jennifer

    Well, Buck....apparently you can't spell...so what was your point?

    September 16, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bailoutsos

    I think America should tell international travelers not to step over the edge of the Grand Canyon also, just to be safe.

    September 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh yes

      ... stupid people are everywhere ;-P

      September 17, 2010 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. J

    You are all pathetic for fighting over this ger over yourselfs

    September 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
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