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The new travel reality: Travel is back, but with increased risks

Author: Theodore Koumelis / Date: Tue, 11/23/2021 - 08:48

Tips for safe return to travel amidst COVID-19.

BANGKOK – With the re-opening of travel in Thailand on November 1, International SOS is offering important health and safety tips for organisations on how to safely return to business travel.

The latest data from International SOS reveals that global business trip volumes have increased fourfold and sevenfold in domestic trip since May 20211. However, the pandemic has added a new layer of complexity to travel. Constantly evolving travel regulations and increased security and health risks mean that trips are now nine-times more like to result in an evacuation1. These findings were released by International SOS, the world’s leading health and security services company with 12,000 clients worldwide.

International SOS has been supporting their clients on a safe return to travel throughout the pandemic. In the past year, it has observed 60% increase in number of cases per 100 trips and 80% increase in high severity security incidents. Although some uncertainties remain, the future of travel means that significant changes in the aviation, hospitality and travel industries are already underway. The three main pillars to 'Safely Resuming Travel Amidst COVID -19' include: 1 -Protect your travellers, 2- Protect your business, 3- Comply with the law.

Travel Restrictions – a big challenge for travellers and employers
The complex and highly volatile cross-border COVID-19 restrictions have generated a strong additional workload for travellers, a surge of demand to their employers to help them, and particularly to HR & security teams for trusted sources of health and security information and advice, as well help with local law enforcement.

International SOS Dr. Jamon Ngoencharee, said, "According to the findings, trips are nine-times more likely to result in a medical evacuation so managers would need to review their travel policy and ensure compliance to local guidelines to minimise risk to their workforce. Travel policy should include health interventions, managing testing & quarantine process for travellers, providing accurate information, including the current COVID-19 risk and healthcare infrastructure in the arrival destination.”

Security specialist Mr. Sarawut Thamjun, Security Manager, Asia Pacific for International SOS said, "The new travel reality requires managers to consider assignee populations, including dependents, and provide individual risk assessments supported by everything from access to healthcare to teleconsultation, security or mental health support. Organisations need to fulfil their duty of care responsibilities by clearly communicating risks and their mitigation measures to their employees and provide both health, security and emotional support should an incident occur.

For either domestic or international travel, it means also monitoring ongoing community transmissions and local restrictions, while assessing the security environment and healthcare capabilities in the host destination. The path to safe travel starts with accurate on the ground health intelligence before departure and requires remaining both flexible and adaptive. This means using scenarios to guide the decision-making process supported by plans for disruption based on a detailed response plan.”

1 Analysis based on International Assistance Case Data (1 May 2020 – 31 August 2021) and International SOS Alerts (1 Jan 2019 – 31 July 2021).


Theodore Koumelis

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.