Ensuring safe holidays: International SOS offers expert advice on managing travel risks

AS the festive season approaches, organisations worldwide are gearing up for increased employee travel and holiday gatherings.

Amid the excitement, the world’s leading health and security risk services company International SOS shared expert advice to help organisations effectively manage travel risks and ensure the safety and well-being of their global workforce.

“Travellers must remain well informed and prepared for short-notice and sometimes high-impact disruptions. Organisations should have clear communication protocols for reporting security incidents and ensuring prompt assistance,” said International SOS chief security Michael Rogers.

“It is also crucial for organisations to have clear communication protocols in place for reporting security incidents and ensuring that prompt assistance is readily available when needed. In the event of a significant incident, clear, wide-reaching proactive communication from security management covering the organisation’s response goes a long way towards appeasing anxieties and elucidating the next steps.

“By implementing proactive measures and fostering a culture of risk awareness, employers can empower their workforce to make informed decisions and enjoy a safe and healthy holiday season.”

The holiday season brings a unique set of travel considerations and ensuring the safety of a diverse workforce becomes paramount. Safety and security risks, including extreme weather events and criminal activities could pose significant threats during travel.

Instances of scams, pickpocketing and stolen passports become prevalent during times of heightened travel and in crowded environments, including festive gatherings, Christmas markets and religious services.

Besides, recent studies indicate a significant rise in serious crowd accidents globally over the past two decades, with religious festivals surpassing sporting events as the most likely situations leading to crowd crush incidents.

Photo credit: The Star


The recent escalation in the conflict between Israel and Hamas adds to the concerns, raising the threat of isolated acts of violence at places of worship and other religious gatherings.

With winter arriving in the northern hemisphere, there is an increased risk of airline and airport personnel falling ill due to the seasonal surge in flu and other illnesses, potentially causing travel disruptions during the holiday season.

Moreover, International SOS regional medical director Dr Kate O’Reilly underscores the health and well-being of workforces as top priorities.

“The health and wellbeing of workforces should remain top priorities for employers, especially during the holiday season when travel and festivities can impact overall wellbeing. Organisations should encourage employees to pack essential medications, stay hydrated and maintain adequate sleep to minimise the risk of illnesses.

“It is important for travellers to know if any vaccinations are needed and if antimalarials are required for their trip. Providing access to telemedicine services can offer employees convenient and timely access to medical advice and consultations, as well as ensuring that employees receive prompt and appropriate care if they feel unwell during their travels.”

Furthermore, here are some top travel health and safety tips for organisations to promote seamless travel during the festive period:

Staying informed and prepared
Ensure employees conduct pre-travel risk assessments and provide guidelines on travel safety and health precautions.

Promoting health and wellness
Encourage employees to schedule a travel health consultation well in advance.

Navigating crowds safely
Remind employees to exercise situational awareness, stay vigilant, and secure their valuables, especially in large crowds.

Ensure cultural sensitivity
Encourage employees to respect local customs and traditions, dress appropriately, and avoid offensive activities.

Maintain flexible itineraries
Contingency plans are crucial. Keep departure and return dates and routes as flexible as possible and allow additional travel time due to increased congestion.

Eat, drink, and be jolly informed
Remind employees to stay hydrated, well-rested, and pack essential medications. Ensure awareness of weather conditions, safest neighbourhoods and incidents of crime at their destinations. – Dec 21, 2023


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