While travel disruption is typically associated
with natural disasters, it appears that the real scourge of travel
is, more often than not, man-made.
This is according to Abacus, one of Asia
Pacific’s leading travel technology companies, which today
published metrics on the root causes of disruption across the
region and around the world.
Collated from broadcasts of the Abacus TripAlert
service, which advises travel management companies of incidents
that threaten their travellers’ schedules and safety, the findings
reveal the ripple effects that are causing millions to alter their
Along with its partner in early detection AidCom, Abacus has analysed over 5,000 early
warning alerts broadcast over the course of 2013.
Natural phenomena surfaced as the single largest
source of inconvenience, with 28% of all travel disruption
stemming from either severe weather conditions or other naturally occurring events. On a regional front, both Oceania and Southeast
Asia took a battering last year with 275 and 219 ‘nature’ alerts,
respectively. Globally, Americans suffered most frequently
overall, with almost 500 alerts.
However, while man-made
disruption was secondary, the repercussions were deemed to be much
more serious, compared to forces of nature, as they often evolved
into other alerts as they escalated. In fact, out of a total of
1,451 ‘security’ alerts broadcast by AidCom last year, 25% were
considered ‘severe’ and led to defensive measures that played
havoc with travellers’ plans. Road, airport and even border
closures are a common outcome under such circumstances.
man-made political and security related events accounted for four
in every ten alerts, often linked to each other. From the
one-in-seven that warned of localised political activity came 136
riots with 64 curfews in 2013. Looting was a by-product mentioned
in a separate 40 alerts.
“The domino effect is why early
warning is so important,” explained Peder Kvendset, CEO of Abacus
partner in early detection, AidCom. “A political rally or election
turning violent quickly becomes a security issue for travellers.
Reports of terrorist activity will also spike in the feeds,
prompting companies to consider their duty of care to staff
working in the vicinity.”
‘Traffic’ advisories follow in
number, detailing the locations where congestion, cancellations or
closures are likely. Almost half of all political and security
incidents reported last year triggered one or more of the 1,488
urgent traffic alerts.
“We track these incidents against
travellers’ itineraries two days before, during and after their
trip to provide as much information as we can to minimize the
effects of disruption,” said Robert Bailey, President and CEO of
Abacus. “Essentially, Abacus TripAlert gives our agents a window
to act, before their travellers’ options narrow.”
the Middle East was the focus of the most security alerts at 437
last year: Iraq producing 209 and Syria 115. Cairo was the subject
of more alerts (of all types) than any other place on the planet.
It was top of the list of cities for political alerts and third
for those security-related, just behind Baghdad and Damascus.
In Asia, both India and Bangladesh witnessed frequent clashes
and varied protests. Pakistan’s economic capital Karachi produced
25 security alerts during the year, just ahead of Bangkok’s 22
political alerts and nine security.
“The data from 2013
gave us some indication of the risks for this year, perhaps
explaining the interest in Abacus TripAlert so far, especially
amongst corporate travel agencies with clients who travel to the
most exposed areas,” added Bailey. “While the travel
industry flexes exceptionally well around these events to minimise
the inconvenience, corporate clients really do appreciate the
added foresight of the technology, which offers them the best
possible range of options and at least some degree of control.”
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