Naive holidaymakers face increasing risk of arrest

Report from TravelMole

Holidaymakers need to research their destinations more thoroughly to avoid being fined or imprisoned for apparently inoffensive activities such as feeding pigeons, playing bingo or eating while sitting on a national monument, warns the Foreign Office.

It said that more than a quarter of the 19,000-plus travellers who were assisted by the consulate last year had been arrested or detained, but many could have avoided getting into trouble if they’d read up on local laws and customs before leaving home.

Director of consular services Charles Hay said: “It is important to remember that laws and customs can vary greatly from country to country and what may be perfectly legal in the UK could be subject to a fine or even a jail sentence in another.”

There has been a marked increase in arrests of UK travellers in Italy, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands, said the Foreign Office.

Britons can fall foul of the law in seemingly familiar destinations such as Italy, it said. In Florence you could be fined for eating or drinking in the immediate vicinity of churches and public buildings; in Venice it’s against the law to feed pigeons.

Other unusual laws include:

  • In Barbados it is an offence for anyone, including children, to wear camouflage clothing
  • In Barcelona it is an offcence to wear bikini tops, trunks or go bare-chested away from the beach area
  • Fiji prohibits topless sunbathing
  • It is illegal to take mineral water into Nigeria
  • Chewing gum is prohibited on Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system
  • Taking more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand is illegal
  • In Japan it is illegal to use some nasal sprays which are commonly available elsewhere

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