Mission of the Month: Vigilance is vital for British tourists heading for Brazil
A series of despatches by diplomats from British Embassies and High Commissions around the world
About 180,000 British nationals visit Brazil each year, many of them taking the opportunity to pass through the
Cidade Marvilhosa (the "marvellous city") of Rio de Janeiro. But 300 British visitors a year end up needing the assistance of my consular colleagues for one reason or another. It is not usually for the reasons you might think, such as falling victim to crime. Most of our time is spent assisting British citizens who have lost passports, or who have been arrested for drug trafficking.
Of course, we do help those who have fallen victim to crime, which is why we advise that some of the bigger cities in Brazil have a reputation for high levels of crime and violence and Britons should be vigilant. Last year, we helped a group of 10 backpackers who were held up at gunpoint in the middle of the night in their youth hostel. They were really grateful for the help of my consular colleagues and were able to continue with their onward travels.
Another important part of our consular work in Rio is training alongside our colleagues from Brazil and South America, so that we can help Britons in times of major crisis. Our last major crisis response was on the Air France Flight 447 that crashed off the north-east coast of Brazil on 1 June 2009. We helped the families of all the British casualties involved in the incident, working alongside our Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff in London and Paris, and the West Midlands Police, among others.
Responding quickly and effectively to these sorts of emergencies is a vital part of the consular work we do. Although we recognise that in times of crisis there is little we can do to put right what has happened to the those involved and their families, there is much we can do on the ground to mitigate against further things going wrong for them.
This is one of the reasons we try to encourage Britons travelling and living overseas to register their travel with us, so that we can try to contact them and their families quickly in an emergency. Visit fco.gov.uk to register with your nearest British Embassy.
Stuart Smith is the British consular manager based in the British Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For travel advice on Brazil, and for travel everywhere else on the planet, see www.fco.gov.uk/travel
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
Are plastic planes the future of flight? Heathrow expansion reopens debate over aviation's effects on the environment
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
The 50 Best European beach breaks
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The most powerful passports in the world
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...
£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...
£22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...