Security risk for global travellers to swell in 2020

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on November 29, 2019 Published on November 29, 2019

The travel risk perception of India is that it is a ‘medium risk’ destination   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

Geopolitical threats, civil unrest and economic volatility are the primary culprits, warns a travel risk outlook report

For the mobile workforce and business travellers, the year 2020 may throw up increased security risk in international travel, a report from a global medical and travel security risk services agency says.

In the latest Annual Travel Risk Outlook for 2020, International SOS revealed that in 2020, travellers may face higher security risk than in the previous year primarily due to increased geopolitical volatility and civil unrest.

A ‘Business Resilience Trend Watch’ survey conducted in partnership with Ipsos MORI revealed critical ‘Grey Zones of Risk’ and missed opportunities in harnessing technological innovations to protect the workforce. The survey covers over 1,300 business travel decision-makers.

Results from the survey reveal that perception on security threats has increased by 23 percentage points over the past year to 68 per cent for 2020, while security threat due to civil unrest has increased by 14 percentage points to 52 per cent.

Top reasons

The report highlights why business travel managers expect to change itineraries in 2020: 51 per cent believe that health and security risks increased in the past year and 47 per cent anticipate risks will rise further in the coming year. Geopolitical unrest (52 per cent) and natural disasters (51 per cent) are other key concerns for business travel managers.

Speaking to Businessline, Udit Mehta, Executive Vice-President, Global Security Solutions, revealed that there have been interesting changes in the risk perception over the last one year with the most significant being the global geopolitical uncertainty.

“Last year, interestingly, we saw a decline in risk perception. So most people were thinking that the world was getting much safer. But this year remarkably, geopolitical shift in parts of the world and economic concerns in other regions, have changed the risk perception. And it has gone up now, which is contrary to last year. Also, the risk from natural disaster/climate change is possibly causing perception change about the risk due to natural disaster.” The organisation found that the typical high risk zones continues to exist in the Middle-East, South Africa and countries such as Sudan, where the environment is still challenging. “Additionally, in countries in Latin America, we have seen political upheavals. While risk remains across geographies, the Middle-East North Africa (MENA) region continues to be a hotbed from a political and security perspective as there have been consistent changes in terms of political dynamics, which is much quicker than the previous years,” added Mehta.

How India fares

The travel risk perception about India rates it as a medium-risk destination.

“India traditionally has remained a complex country and there exists varied risks. Due to India’s complex environment, there are some territories, where there is high risk, and there are some territories, where there is a bit lower risk. From a health perspective, there is also a varied risk perception. Urban cities offer much better medical infrastructure, but the dynamics change when you move out of the big cities,” stated Mehta.

Aligning travel policy

The annual study on travel risk has revealed that emerging traveller habits, both domestically and internationally, and diversification of the workforce are creating grey zones of risk, where employers don’t align travel policies with new potential risk factors. Also, less than a third of organisations include cyber security in their travel policies. This could potentially open up organisations to litigation and reputational damage if they do not adhere to their Duty of Care, besides resulting in negative consequences for employees and business.

The Travel Risk Outlook survey 2020 was conducted by International SOS, a $1.5 billion privately-owned French company assisting companies in mitigating health and security risks.

The company claims to have over 11,000 corporate clients, 84 in the Fortune 100 cohort and more than 50 per cent among Fortune 500 companies.

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Published on November 29, 2019
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