The State Dept. recently added Antarctica to its Travel Advisory list — what does this mean for corporate travel managers?
Even if you’re a research scientist, you’re probably not going to be taking a business trip any time soon to Antarctica.
But hey, you never know: With the urgency for more on-site study into the alarming acceleration of ice-melt due to climate change, more than 3,000 scientists and support workers from academia, industry and the military and contract employees from the United States now work at year-round research facilities in Antarctica, according to the National Science Foundation, which even publishes links to employment opportunities for contractors offering jobs in the Antarctic.
But not so fast. Hardy souls headed toward the South Pole on business should also know that the United States State Department in January issued a travel advisory to “exercise increased caution in Antarctica due to environmental hazards posed by extreme and unpredictable weather.” Yes, the weather at the South Pole has been changing, and the State Department is on it.
The heads-up on Antarctica reflects major revisions last year for the comprehensive list of State Department’s travel advisories and warnings. The agency said its new system would be more timely, and more user-friendly and reliable, in providing travel-security information for every foreign country or “area.” (Antarctica, of course, is a continent). Under the revised system, there are four levels of travel advisory: Normal Precaution, Increased Caution, Reconsider Travel and the dire Do Not Travel.
The State Department says the advisories “provide clear reasons for the level assigned using assessments on things such as crime, terrorism and civil unrest, health issues” and temporary security concerns that can occur in any country with disputed elections or major sports events.
The Level 4 “Do Not Travel” countries currently are Venezuela, Haiti, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Mali, the Central Africa Republic and North Korea. Level 3 “Reconsider Travel” includes such countries as Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
Corporate travel managers are, of course, spending a lot more effort on duty of care matters like risk management, both in foreign travel and, increasingly, domestic travel – including assessing risk and other security and privacy concerns when arranging and managing meetings and events. Last month, the Global Business Travel Association released research in conjunction with the security-intelligence firm WorldAware which found that while two-thirds of surveyed travel-buyers claim risk assessment is a “growing priority” for their organizations, when planning a meeting, a quarter of the companies and organizations “never or rarely conduct a formal risk assessment of specific venues,”while another quarter say their organizations “never or rarely assesses the risk of meeting locations, such as a particular city or neighborhood.”
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