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.

Following on from our piece before Christmas – Expert Comment: The biggest and the most overlooked travel safety stories of 2018 – we wanted to follow up by asking what these experts will be looking at in 2019. Behold the experts’ answers!

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

Email address:
Twitter: @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 three travel/travel safety issues do you think people should keep an eye on in 2019?

Gig Economy: The proliferation of the gig economy will continue apace throughout 2019. Platforms such as ride-sharing app Uber and short-term rental service AirBnB have provided travellers with unparalleled flexibility when organising journeys abroad. However, travellers should be aware of the risks involved with utilising these platforms, which often have little oversight or regulation. Moreover, these platforms have often triggered a – sometimes violent – backlash in the communities they enter, something which most travellers may simply not be aware of. Managers should consider how best to balance convenience and security when constructing their travel-security policies and travellers should be briefed on why any controls are implemented, to ensure compliance.

Cultural Risks: In April this year, British academic Matthew Hedges was arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while conducting security-related research. Emirati officials claimed Hedges was a British spy carrying out espionage against the UAE. For around six months, Hedges was held in an Emirati jail, mostly in solitary confinement. He was tried, and convicted to life imprisonment. It was only after a backlash in the United Kingdom and the personal intervention of the British foreign secretary that the UAE released the academic, while maintaining his guilt. This case was notable in that it clearly highlighted how something considered normal in one country – academic research – could be regarded as a national security violation in another. Individuals should ensure they are aware of the cultural sensitivities and legal environment of the country in which they intend to travel, to prevent falling afoul as Hedges did.

Dual Nationals: Dual nationals are increasingly being viewed as political pawns by countries across the world. This is most obvious in Iran, which launches intermittent arrest campaigns against dual citizens on spurious national security grounds. However, this is not an Iran-specific risk. China, notably, does not recognise dual nationality, and could seek to detain Sino-American travellers as relations with the United States deteriorate. Travellers holding two passports should be briefed on these risks before travel, and managers should advise them on how best to mitigate risk.


Bruce McIndoe, Founder and Chief Evangelist at WorldAware

Twitter: @WorldAwareIntl

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 three travel/travel safety issues do you think people should keep an eye on in 2019?

Looking ahead to 2019, people should be particularly aware of security issues related to transportation, health, and cyber threats.

Within these categories, some of the most pressing safety issues to watch include natural disasters, regional airline safety, geopolitical and social unrest, income inequality driving crime, data breaches, lone terrorist or criminal activity and public health concerns.


Matthew Davies FRGS, Director at Remote Area Risk International



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 three travel/travel safety issues do you think people should keep an eye on in 2019?

Insurance – if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford to travel. Lack of travel insurance can literally lead to your family losing their house to pay for medical bills. There are numerous similar stories every year – usually referencing a crowd funding page to pay for repatriation.

Pre health screening is essential – get advice, get the meds, take them.

[The British man dying in Morocco after being bitten by a rabid cat] is but one example of travel health perils. There are many more cases that don’t make the national headlines – look at the number of cases of malaria in returned travellers to the U.K. every year.

For the adventure travel sector, I’d keep an eye on the case of the two Scandinavian women killed in Morocco in December.

The suggestion is that terrorist motives lay behind the killings. This has already rung notes of concern through the adventure travel community given the relative safety of the destination. Hopefully, this tragedy was a one off and not signs of wider unravelling. If further security-related issues occur, this could impact on what is a popular adventure and leisure destination. My feeling is that if the reported motive is true, it’s an isolated incident. Remember, bad things can happen anywhere – whether it’s London, UK or Mt Toubkal, Morocco. Be prepared. Enjoy but be cautious.



Travel Operative

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?

Terrorism remains front and centre as the high consequence risk event of 2019.  While the frequency and impact of terrorist attacks abated somewhat in 2018, there is still an ever present threat of violent extremism across Europe, UK, Australia and the US.  Keep up to date with the latest travel news and monitor official government websites.  Refer to our article on government travel advice

Solo travel is on the rise and those deciding to undertake travel on their own should carefully plan ahead especially if visiting high risk locations in Africa, parts of Asia and South America.  Solo travellers may be perceived as an easy target for criminals and organised kidnap for ransom operations.  Again trip planning is key, it is also a good idea to provide copies of your itinerary to family and friends in advance.


Sarah Gayer, Editor and researcher at battleface

Twitter: @battlefacePlan

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

What three travel/travel safety issues do you think people should keep an eye on in 2019?

  1. Competitive social media posting drives travellers to more remote and unusual locations.
  2. Digital nomads
  3. Adventure travel, specifically for extreme sports (ultra marathons, endurance climbing, long-haul trekking)
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