Please note – the views in the following feature are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Safe Travels Magazine. Before travel, we recommend that you always do your own research, read travel advisories and buy appropriate travel insurance.

Every year, we like to sign off for the holidays by asking our friends in the sector what they think were the biggest travel safety stories and the most overlooked travel safety stories of the year. Behold the experts’ answers!

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James Pothecary, Regional Security Coordinator – Counter Terrorism, Healix International

Email address: enquiries@healix.com
Website: www.healix.com
Twitter: @hx_global
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/healix-hx-global/

James Pothecary is a London-based Regional Security Coordinator at Healix International and HX Global.  His focus is on Counter Terrorism although he also contributes to a number of global risk management products and service offerings.  Healix International and HX Global are leading providers of global travel risk management and international medical, security and travel assistance services.

What do you think was the biggest/most important travel safety story of 2018, and why?

On 5th August, a powerful 7.0M earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Lombok. Thousands of buildings were devastated and critical infrastructure – such as bridges and power generators – were destroyed.  A number of nearby islands, including Bali, were also heavily impacted. Over 500 people died as a result of the earthquake, and thousands were left stranded. Among them were over 5,000 tourists. When Indonesian emergency responders arrived to evacuate those on the islands, they allegedly demanded payments from foreign nationals for assistance, and prioritised helping locals.

The reason this should be regarded as the most important travel-safety story of the year is that it forcefully shows that travellers must always consider how they would respond to risk. Bali is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, with millions of domestic and foreign tourists arriving each year.  Yet, despite being in the Pacific ring of fire, it is a safe assumption that the vast majority of travellers will not have familiarised themselves with basic earthquake-safety measures, such as the ‘drop, cover and hold’ approach, remaining in vehicles while seismic activity is ongoing, and to be alert for aftershocks.

What do you think was the most overlooked travel safety story of 2018, and why do you think this deserves more attention?

On 7th December, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report that contained a shocking statistic: around 1.35 million people die annually due to road traffic collisions (RTC). This makes death by RTC the leading cause of fatalities among young people aged 5-29, and one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Although the headline figures received little media attention, they have profound implications for how travel-security professionals should perceive risk. Too often, the focus is on human threat actors, such as criminal actors or militants. Accordingly, security advice focuses on avoiding certain areas, employing security support in high-risk areas and having emergency-response plans in place. Yet, as this report clearly shows, travellers are most at risk when simply crossing the road.

 

Bruce McIndoe, Founder and Chief Evangelist at WorldAware

Website: www.worldaware.com/
Twitter: @WorldAwareIntl
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/worldaware

Bruce McIndoe, President and Chief Evangelist of WorldAware, is a recognized expert in the risk management, travel and intelligence industries. Since founding WorldAware in 1999, Bruce has been the key contributor to its strategic growth, securing the integrated risk management firm as a global leader in organizational resiliency with the development of the Worldcue® Global Control Center. Prior to joining WorldAware, Bruce was founder and CEO of CSSI, an Inc. 500 and four-time Washington Technology FAST 50 company that developed software for the intelligence community. He has also served as a lead architect on intelligence programs for the US government.

What do you think was the biggest/most important travel safety story of 2018, and why?

Perhaps the biggest travel safety story unfolded on December 19th and 20th when drone activity shut down London Gatwick Airport (LGW). It remains closed today. Tens of thousands of travelers have been affected by an event for which authorities were clearly unprepared. The length of the closure is curious, but we must assume one of two things: 1) It is being done out of extreme caution because the phenomenon is a relatively new one and the motive of the ‘pilot(s)’ is unknown, or 2) Authorities know more than they are sharing. The natural concern is that even if the motive behind the incident is harmless or a prank, terrorists and others with more nefarious purposes will have been made aware of a novel way to cause mass, sustained disruptions.

What do you think was the most overlooked travel safety story of 2018, and why do you think this deserves more attention?

The most overlooked travel safety story of 2018 is the same story that’s been overlooked in years past. Everyday events like car accidents, petty (or more serious) crimes and health events don’t tend to garner headlines, but nonetheless they cause profound difficulty for untold thousands of travelers each year. Major events tend to capture the bulk of attention, to the detriment of those who are typically unprepared for the more common threats during travel.

 

Matthew Davies FRGS, Director at Remote Area Risk International

Email: davies@R2Rinternational.com
Website: www.R2Rinternational.com

 

Matthew Davies FRGS is a Travel Risk Management and Remote Area Risk specialist, certified Duty of Care Practitioner – as well as a specialist lawyer within this area. He has over 25 years experience in the field, is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and has led expeditions in and trained teams for various environments including desert and arctic circle expeditions. He is a member of the drafting committee for BS:8848. Matthew is also the Co- Founder of the C:ORE Risk Conference for Travel Risk Managers, academic establishments, adventure travel, expedition and exploration sectors.

What do you think was the most overlooked travel safety story of 2018, and why do you think this deserves more attention?

I’ll cheat and pick two. Neither are massive headline grabbers but relate more to themes.

The first ties in with my ‘three points to look out for’ (below). Preparation, awareness and the power of knowledge.

There have been several deaths or missing persons in the Outback this year – as is the case every year. All those involved would have benefitted from prior awareness – whether from a book or suitable training. Many years ago, I had the privilege to train with Bob Cooper, who is a bush and outback survival expert. It’s a strong theme travellers should heed: research where you are going, prepare, acquire skills, kit and make sure you have good comms.

The second relates to mental health and other tensions working far from home, in remote areas. One that some of my deployed colleagues have written about. A 2018 example was the stabbing of the scientist at the research station in Antarctica, after he ‘kept on revealing endings of books he was reading.’

Many of the clients we work with have operations in remote areas. At the time of writing, we have one team member deep in the southern oceans on a long term project and another about to deploy in days. We take mental health and mental wellbeing very seriously, keeping in touch with our teams and supporting people through their journeys.

 

tto1_piko_logo

Travel Operative

Email: editor@traveloperative.com
Website: www.traveloperative.com
Twitter: @travel_ops

The Travel Operative is a website produced by people who have spent many years working behind the scenes in the security domain. Together with their extensive travel experiences, they provide free detailed analysis of location-specific threats and security insights for travellers.

What do you think was the most overlooked travel safety story of 2018, and why do you think this deserves more attention?

Today, air travel is a relatively safe mode of transport particularly with the advent new technologies and lessons from past aviation disasters have been learned.  For the most part commercial aviation was relatively incident free 2018, however, the year was punctuated by the Lion Air Flight 610 disaster that claimed 189 lives off the coast of Indonesia.

We believe that this incident deserves special attention as it demonstrated that despite the advances in aviation technology (the aircraft involved in the crash was delivered to Lion Air in August 2018), there are inherent risks in air travel that cannot be completely ruled out.  While it is difficult to accurately assess the risks as there a number of variables, we advise travellers to select airlines that have continuously operated fleets with a good safety record.

Sarah Gayer, Editor and researcher at battleface

Website: www.battleface.com
Twitter: @battlefacePlan
Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/battlefacePlan/

Sarah Gayer edits and contributes to face, an ezine dedicated to travel safety in conflict zones as well as around the corner.

What do you think was the biggest/most important travel safety story of 2018, and why?

Grace Millane’s death was a tragedy. But her sad story opened up a dialogue about solo female travel safety, and safety for young women alone in general, even in ‘safe’ places.

What do you think was the most overlooked travel safety story of 2018, and why do you think this deserves more attention?

A motorcyclist dies every 1 minute and 23 seconds worldwide. Most of these deaths are preventable. Travellers planning to visit countries where 2-wheeled transport is tempting need more access to information about the Menace of the Moped.

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