Travellers tend to ignore real risks

Travellers and corporates tend to spend too much time focusing on unlikely events such as terrorist attacks, and underplay the likelihood of more common incidents like road accidents and medical emergencies. This is according to research released by International SOS and Control Risks, together with their Travel Risk Map for 2017.

Rob Walker, security specialist at International SOS and Control Risks, said: “Events of 2016 have resulted in a sense of increasing challenges in travel to places once thought secure. While risks are changing, organisations must ensure their actions to mitigate those changes are proportionate and based on reality and not perception. Issues like healthcare and provision and road safety, which account for over 70% of the assistance services we have provided in the past year, can often be obscured by more prominent, but less likely issues.”

Despite an increased perception of risk (72% of respondents), 44% reported a rise in business travel activity in the past year and over half expect a further increase in 2017. Interestingly, 80% of organisations modified travel itineraries in the past year due to health and security concerns, while almost half of respondents (48%) say their organisation’s investment in travel risk mitigation has increased over the past year and 47% believe this will increase further in the coming year.

On a global level, the biggest concerns are potential terror attacks (71%), followed by Zika virus (49%) and civil unrest (46%), with inadequate healthcare and road accidents both at 15%. However, these less considered but more common issues should also be taken seriously, says SOS International.

Dr Irene Lai, Medical Director of Information and Analysis for International SOS, said: “It is vital for companies to familiarise themselves and their travellers with the health risks associated with travel and take measures to reduce those risks. While the Zika virus has had extensive media coverage this year, common medical issues that don’t make the headlines, such as travellers’ gastric issues or running out of regular medication, are more likely and can destroy a business trip.”

“Road accidents are also a major issue and one of the top-five causes of medical evacuation. A number of countries showed significant reduction in deaths from road accidents in the past year, but organisations should be mindful that they remain a common major risk,” she added.