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Business travellers make 52% more overseas trips to high-risk destinations

The world is a scary place right now. Where’s safe to go to? Well, for British citizens, the safety of foreign countries is ranked by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office – the FCO. According to new analysis by Collinson Group there has been a 52% (842,264) increase in the number of visits by UK business travellers to high-risk destinations overseas in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period a year earlier.

The threat from terrorism is rated “high” in more than 30 countries around the world, according to the Foreign Office, with holiday favourites such as Spain (which sees 12million Brits visiting each year) and Turkey given the same rating as Libya, Pakistan and Somalia.

With this in mind, amazingly, in the first half of 2015, business travellers made 2,477,105 visits to destinations that experienced level three security incidents, as identified by Collinson Group, compared to 1,634,840 a year earlier. Category three security incidents include attempted coups and terrorist attacks.

High-risk countries which have experienced level three security incidents include Nigeria, Tunisia, Pakistan, Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt and India. In the first half of 2015, a total of 41 countries registered level three incidents with Middle Eastern, North African and sub-Saharan African countries making up the vast majority.

According to the analysis of ONS Travelpac data, Tunisia saw the largest increase in business travel visits – up 362% in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014. At the same time Tunisia has also seen a steep rise in security risks, where terrorist activity gave rise to three level three alerts in the period January to June 2015, compared with zero for the same period in 2014.

Two other countries that have witnessed exponential growth in the number of business travellers have also experienced serious security incidents, from car bombs to air strikes: Egypt saw a 60% increase in business travel visits in the first six months of 2015 and Israel saw visits increase 41%. Both countries have experienced significant category three security incidents in the first half of the year. In addition, British business travellers made 2,852 visits to Pakistan in the first six months of this year, a country that ranks eighth in the world for the number of the highest risk security threats recorded globally in 2015.

Data from Collinson Group, whose 360 Assistance portal provides global security alerts for corporate travellers, reveals Yemen tops the list of countries experiencing the most serious level three security incidents (see below), with threats ranging across air strikes, car bombs and kidnapping. Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Syria make up the top five.

However, in an indication of the fast-changing nature of global events, a number of countries perceived as being traditionally less risky also received level three alerts in the first half of 2015. Denmark, France, Macedonia and the US, for instance, all saw level three incidents occur.

Collinson Group is advising employers to review their corporate travel policies and consider what mechanisms they have in place to respond to a broadening array of emergency scenarios; from the increasingly less geographically biased nature of terrorism to other factors that can pose a threat to traveller security – such as lone travellers to more unfamiliar destinations.

Mark Rands, Head of Assistance at Collinson Group, said: “The world remains a challenging place for business travellers, both in countries we might associate as being more inherent with risk but also in those we tend to not think twice aboutWith the demand and requirement for business travel remaining high, information and preparation are key.

“Firms must focus on ensuring their travelling staff have ready access to information and guidance that is relevant to high impact events as well as their specific travel itineraries and individual circumstances to protect the safety and wellbeing of these employees both pre-journey and in-travel. We have designed our 360 Assistance service to cater exactly for these demands, providing users with an end-to-end range of services and tools to manage business travel effectively whatever the destination.”

To help employers manage their duty of care to their travelling employees Collinson Group has recently launched 360 Assistance. As a fully integrated medical and security advice and emergency response service it has been designed to help employees in any situation and in any time zone around the world through Collinson Group’s extensive global network.

The service features a customised web portal, providing employees with up-to-date medical and security information on over 200 countries and a real-time incident alert service to keep travellers updated while on the move.