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Fear of terrorism disrupted New Years Eve celebrations across the globe as security was tightened from Sydney to New York.
Sadly, people are getting used to the spectre of terrorism and travellers are learning to endure disruptions.
David Holley, a director at security consultancy HP Risk Management, examines some other major security trends facing business travellers in 2016.
A Chinese slump, the low price of oil and commodity price drops has led to an economic downturn in previously booming economies. Popular destinations like Angola, Nigeria and Brazil that are heavily reliant on the revenue raised from raw materials are already seeing a significant upturn in criminality and violence.
Brazil highlights the issue for travellers with the forthcoming Olympics this summer. A spate of grab and run robberies on Rio’s beaches coupled with a deteriorating security situation in many of the city’s slums, is a cause for concern. In October 2015, a woman was killed when following a GPS satnav app which incorrectly led her into a notorious slum area and tragically into a shoot-out.
No doubt the security will be tight during the Olympics. However, the police will be facing a greater criminal challenge than they did during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Warnings about the danger of cyber attacks are common in our current political landscape. Sadly they are accurate and business travellers are particularly vulnerable.
In 2015, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Mandarin Oriental and the Trump collection admitted that their payment systems had been hacked. Client data including credit card information was compromised.
These high profile attacks are only the tip of the iceberg. Locations frequented by business travellers – airports, hotel lobbies, business conventions and restaurants are a favourite target for cyber criminals trying to hijack free wifi connections.
In the Autumn of 2015, a network dubbed “Dark Hotel” was identified by the Kaspersky Lab. The network focuses on introducing spyware in the form of seemingly legitimate updates onto guests’ computers via their room’s wifi connection. The network has been detected in luxury hotels in Asia and is believed to have been used for corporate espionage.
Data attacks will present a new wave of uncertainty for business travellers in 2016.
As a result of the refugee crisis and terrorism threat, the world is going to grow smaller in 2016. At least in terms of freedom of travel. Since the start of the year, travellers now have to produce photo identification at the Sweden-Denmark border for the first time in 50 years. Many European countries may well follow suit.
Visa application processes are likely to get harder rather than easier despite an ever growing demand. Already non-EU passport holders face difficult and often humiliating bureaucratic hurdles when applying for EU visas.
In 2016 America will start requiring visas for travellers who currently do not need them; if for example, they have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan in the previous five years.
So, preparation and research are the watch-words for the smart business traveller and enquire thoroughly before committing to any travel plans.
HP Risk Management Ltd is a security consultancy established two years ago by David Holley to assist companies manage their travel risks. More information can be found at www.hpriskmanagement.com.