Our love affair with travel still strong despite warnings
BAGHDAD and Damascus might not be on the regular tourist itinerary, but Australia's love affair with international travel remains strong.
The Australian Government's Smart Travellers website has ramped up its warnings about many countries as fears of kidnapping by terrorists and the possible spread of the deadly Ebola virus continue to create concerns.
But Kawana's Escape Travel senior consultant Jason Voros said bookings for international flights, including those over the Middle East, were still popular.
"People are a lot more aware, but I wouldn't say they were travelling any less," Mr Voros said.
The main impact of recent events is being felt by an airline and not a country.
"We are struggling to sell Malaysia Airlines," Mr Voros said.
"I'm not sure why - I flew with them last year and I would fly them tomorrow.
"We are still selling Malaysia Airlines because they are an amazing airline."
The allure of the pyramids in Egypt or the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is proving more difficult to sell.
But Etihad and Emirates fly over the Middle East and they are very busy.
Mr Voros said even after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, people still wanted to travel.
Getting in and out of airports in Australia has also become more complicated since the government raised the domestic National Terrorism Public Alert level to "high" on September 12.
This represents the assessed risk of a terrorist threat within Australia.
It does not relate to the risks faced by Australians when travelling overseas, which are covered in the travel advisories section of this site.
Heightened security arrangements are in place at Australia's international airports.
Most of the recent traffic on the Smart Travellers' website concerns the world's worst Ebola epidemic, which has affected nearly 5400 people since March.
But the actions of the Islamic State and fears of kidnapping westerners in neighbouring countries of Iraq and Syria have also resulted in strong travel warnings.
A trip to Fiji or France might be the safer options with both of these countries at the lowest warning level: "exercise normal safety precautions".