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Travel Advisory

By Joe Sharkey
Travel Advisory

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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MEMO PAD – Lots of room(s) – There were 2.3 million hotel rooms under construction at 13,573 projects around the world at the end of 2018, says Lodging Econometrics. The industry research firm says that the regions reaching record highs in the hotel-room pipeline last year were Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Globally, the individual cities with the largest pipeline counts for new rooms were Dubai (49,943); New York (29,457); Guangzhou, China (28,694); Los Angeles (23,404) and Dallas (19,476). …

…Marriott International says it’s planning to encrypt and otherwise better shield passport data at its properties in countries that require hotels to collect such information. That’s partly a response to the data-breach of 383 million guest records at its Starwood brands from 2014 to last year …

…  JetBlue is considering flights between London and New York and Boston on A321LR planes, according to the Independent newspaper in London, which quoted the CEO Robin Hayes saying that the airline is  “actively looking” at the expansion -- perhaps flying to Gatwick or Stansted rather than Heathrow. If the decision is made to go ahead, it would be the first foray into Europe by JetBlue, which currently operates in the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America.


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Joe Sharkey

Joe Sharkey’s work appears in major national and international publications. For 19 years, until 2015, he was a columnist for the New York Times — for 16 years doing the weekly “On the Road” column on business travel, and before that the weekly “Jersey” column for three years. He is currently a columnist with Business Jet Traveler magazine, and an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Arizona. A Vietnam veteran, he has written five books, four non-fiction and a novel. One of his nonfiction books, “Above Suspicion,” has been adapted as a major motion picture starring Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston, Thora Birch and Johnny Knoxville (and directed by Phillip Noyce), to be released soon. In January 2017, a new, revised edition of his book “Above Suspicion” was published in print and as an e-book by Open Road Media. Penguin Random House also released an audio book version in January. Open Road also published revised editions in e-book format of his true-crime books “Death Sentence” and “Deadly Greed.” In January 2018, the revised edition of “Death Sentence” was published in print by Open Road Media. In his newspaper career before the New York Times, he was an assistant national editor at the Wall Street Journal; the executive city editor of the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union; and a reporter and columnist with the Philadelphia Inquirer. On Sept. 29, 2006, while on assignment, he was one of seven people on a business jet who survived a mid-air collision with a 737 at 37,000 feet over the Amazon in Brazil. All 154 on the commercial airliner died. His reports on the crash appeared on the front page of the New York Times and later in the Sunday Times of London Magazine. He and his wife Nancy (who is a professor of journalism at the University of Arizona) live in Tucson — where he is also working on a new novel about the exploits of an international travel writer who hates to travel. .

better corporate travel starts here.