While travel disruption is typically associated with natural disasters, it appears that the real scourge of travel is often man-made.
This is according to travel technology company Abacus, which today published the results of a study into the causes of travel disruption in Asia and around the world.
Collated from the Abacus TripAlert service, which advises travel management companies of incidents that could threaten their travellers’ safety, the findings reveal the “domino effects” that force people to alter their travel plans.
Along with its partner AidCom, Abacus has analysed more than 5,000 early warning alerts broadcast over the course of 2013. And while natural phenomena were found to be the single largest source of inconvenience, accounting for 28% of all travel disruption, man-made disruption was often found to have a greater impact on travel plans.
Out of a total of 1,451 alerts broadcast by AidCom last year, 25% were considered ‘severe’ and led to subsequent measures that impacted travellers’ plans. Road, airport and even border closures were found to be common outcomes.
Man-made security-related events accounted for 40% of all alerts, and were often linked to each other. The one-in-seven warnings about political unrest included 136 riots with 64 curfews in 2013. Looting – a by-product of these events – was mentioned in a separate 40 alerts.
“The domino effect is why early warning is so important,” said Peder Kvendset, CEO of 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.”
Natural phenomena accounted for 28% of all travel disruption in 2013, including severe weather conditions or other natural disasters. On a regional front, Oceania and Southeast Asia were badly impacted by these natural incidents last year, with 275 and 219 alerts respectively. The US suffered most however, with almost 500 alerts.
Traffic advisories represented 27% of alerts, detailing the locations where congestion, cancellations or closures are likely. But these were linked to political and security incidents, with almost half of these man-made incidents triggering an urgent traffic alerts.
Overall, the Middle East had the most security alerts last year, with 437. Cairo was the subject of more alerts than any other place on the planet, while Baghdad and Damascus also ranked highly. Bangkok’s unrest led to 22 political and nine security alerts in 2013.
“We track these incidents against travellers’ itineraries two days before, during and after their trip to provide as much information as we can to minimise the effects of disruption,” said Robert Bailey, president & CEO of Abacus. “Essentially, Abacus TripAlert gives our agents a window to act, before their travellers’ options narrow.”