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International Travel Risk Security Advice, Warnings, News And Intelligence

Kenya Travel Advice: Heightened Personal Security During The Christmas Holiday Season

The Kenyan authorities have advised heightened personal security during the Christmas holiday season; on 21 December 2015, the Kenyan Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government issued a public watch notice urging citizens to play a role in counter terrorism and prevention of criminal activities by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity, items and people. 117,000 British residents visited Kenya in 2014. International Private Medical Insurance For Kenya Take out comprehensive international private medical insurance before you travel to Kenya, to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad or emergency repatriation and evacuation. Be sure to read…Written on Wednesday, 23 December 2015 15:32 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Turkey Travel Warning: Reports Of An Explosion At Sabiha Gokcen Airport

Reports of an explosion at Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul at around 2am on 23 December 2015; the circumstances of the incident are currently under investigation; the airport remains open. Over 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year. Visas British nationals need a visa to travel to Turkey, except for cruise ship passengers with ‘British Citizen’ passports who arrive at sea ports for tourist visits to the port city or nearby cities, provided that the visit doesn’t exceed 72 hours. If you’re visiting Turkey as a tourist or on business, get an e-Visa online before you travel. Only use the…Written on Wednesday, 23 December 2015 12:03 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Tunisia Travel Warning: State Of Emergency Has Been Extended For 2 Months

State of emergency has been extended for 2 months from 24 December until 21 February 2016. Further attacks remain highly likely, including against foreigners. Security forces are on a high state of alert in Tunis and other locations. You should be especially vigilant and avoid crowded places over the holiday period, including around Mouled (24 December), Christmas and New Year. If you choose to travel to or remain in Tunisia then you should check that your insurance policy provides adequate cover. You should be especially vigilant and follow the advice of the Tunisian security authorities. There are no direct flights…Written on Wednesday, 23 December 2015 11:08 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


USA Travel Advice: Changes To Visa Waiver Programme (VWP)

18 December 2015 and the US Congress passed a Bill updating the requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). Under the new rules, with effect from 1 April 2016, all travellers wishing to enter the US under the VWP will need to hold a passport with an integrated chip. Around 3.8 million British nationals visit the United States every year. Most visits are trouble free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. The US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days without a visa, but…Written on Tuesday, 22 December 2015 11:05 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Brazil Travel Warning: Cases Of Zika Virus Reported

Cases of Zika virus have been reported in a number of states; you should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel to Brazil. Foreign nationals are entitled to emergency medical treatment in Brazilian public hospitals. Public hospitals in Brazil, especially in major cities, tend to be crowded. Private hospitals will not accept you unless you can present evidence of sufficient funds or insurance. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. If you need emergency…Written on Monday, 14 December 2015 15:20 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Philippines Travel Warning: Typhoon Melor (Nona)

Typhoon Melor (Nona) forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to parts of the country from 14 December 2015. Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year. Most typhoons occur from June to December. There may be flooding and landslides. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders. Typhoon Melor (Nona) is forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to parts of the country, in particular northern Visayas and southern Luzon, from 14 December. Around 133,665 British nationals visited the Philippines in 2014. Take out comprehensive…Written on Monday, 14 December 2015 12:26 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Lebanon Travel Security Warning: Explosions In Southern Suburb Area Beirut

12 November 2015 and there were explosions in the southern suburb area of Beirut. Reports indicate that many people have been killed and injured. iPMIM advises against all travel to the southern suburbs of Beirut. Avoid this area and monitor local media for updates. On 10 January 2015, 9 people were killed and over 30 wounded in a suicide bomb attack in the Jebel Mohsen area of Tripoli. On 28 January 2015, there was an attack on the Israeli military in the Shebaa Farms area with reports of cross-border shelling near the towns of Majidiyeh, Kfarshouba, Abbasiye and Wazzani. A…Written on Friday, 13 November 2015 14:00 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence

iPMIM Advises Against All But Essential Travel By Air To Or From Sharm El Sheikh Airport

Over 900,000 British nationals visit Egypt every year. Most visits are trouble-free. 31 October 2015, a flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in North Sinai. Egyptian and Russian authorities are conducting an investigation. There is a significant possibility that the crash was caused by an explosive device. As a precautionary measure, we are now advising against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh. UK carriers will not take passengers directly to Sharm el Sheikh airport. FCO are working with the Egyptian authorities and air carriers to put special security measures in place…Written on Thursday, 05 November 2015 07:39 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence
Philippines Travel Advice: Security Ramped Up For APEC Summit

The Philippines hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Manila on 16 to 20 November. There will be a heightened security presence across the city including at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Scheduled road closures and security checkpoints will cause delays in travel across the city and many schools, government offices and businesses will be closed. If you are flying to or from Manila during this period check with your airline, as flight delays, diversions and cancellations may occur. Around 133,665 British nationals visited the Philippines in 2014. Most visits are trouble-free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance…Written on Monday, 02 November 2015 14:14 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence

Egypt Travel Advice

31 October 2015, a flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in North Sinai; Egyptian and Russian authorities are conducting an investigation. Over 900,000 British nationals visit Egypt every year. Most visits are trouble-free. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place from 18 October to 23 November. There may be rallies around the country in the run up to the elections. You should avoid all rallies and demonstrations. On election days tight controls will be in place around polling stations with access restricted to voters and officially accredited observers. In previous elections British nationals have been arrested close…Written on Monday, 02 November 2015 11:20 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


UK FCO: Concerns About Quality Of Medical Treatment In Holiday Resorts In Egypt

The South Sinai Hospital in Sharm el Sheikh is currently under investigation by the Egyptian Ministry of Health; there are alternative state and private hospitals in Sharm el Sheikh. You can find a list of most commonly used hospitals in Egypt on the British Embassy website. In an emergency dial 123 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your travel company and your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. There are reports of some hotel doctors overcharging for treatment and medicines. Examine your bill closely and challenge excessive charges. Pharmacies outside…Written on Monday, 05 October 2015 11:21 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Tajikistan Travel Warning: Armed Clashes Involving Security Forces Resulting In A Number Of Deaths Reported Close To Dushanbe International Airport

4 September, armed clashes involving security forces resulting in a number of deaths were reported close to Dushanbe International Airport. Tajik authorities are investigating and there is an increased security presence in the area. Given the possibility of further incidents, you should take extra care and monitor the local media. Tourism, health and transport infrastructure is poor and travel requires careful planning. Avoid off-road areas immediately adjoining the Afghan, Uzbek and Kyrgyz borders, which may be mined. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance including evacuation by air ambulance before you travel.Written on Friday, 04 September 2015 10:56 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


International Trains From Budapest Have Been Suspended Until Further Notice

International trains from Budapest Keleti train station have been suspended until further notice due to disruption. Monitor the local media, and check with your carrier and the Hungarian Railways (MÁV) website for further information. Since the end of August 2015 there has been considerable disruption to rail and road transport from Budapest to the Austrian border. This is due to police and border enforcement action as a result of significant numbers of people seeking to transit through Hungary. Around 400,000 British nationals visit Hungary each year. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.Written on Friday, 04 September 2015 10:53 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


India Travel Warning: Flood Warnings For Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam And West Bengal

A flood warning has been issued to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and West Bengal due to the possibility of heavy rainfall in the foothills of the Himalayas over the next few days. The rainfall will also lead to swelling of rivers Kosi, Gandak and Ghaghara, tributaries of Ganga and all tributaries of Brahmaputra. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the Indian Meteorological Department and follow the advice of local authorities and your travel company. Over 800,000 British nationals visit India every year. Before you travel to India, take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance and read the…Written on Wednesday, 19 August 2015 06:20 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence

SOURCE

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Brazil Travel Warning: Cases Of Zika Virus Reported

Cases of Zika virus have been reported in a number of states; you should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel to Brazil. Foreign nationals are entitled to emergency medical treatment in Brazilian public hospitals. Public hospitals in Brazil, especially in major cities, tend to be crowded. Private hospitals will not accept you unless you can present evidence of sufficient funds or insurance. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 192 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Malaria is present in parts of the country.

Dengue fever is particularly common during the rainy season (from November to March) and cases of Zika virus have been reported in a number of states.You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

217,003 British nationals visited Brazil in 2014. Most visits are trouble free.

If you’re a single parent or guardian travelling with a child, you may need additional documentation.

 

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Philippines Travel Warning: Typhoon Melor (Nona)

Typhoon Melor (Nona) forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to parts of the country from 14 December 2015.

Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year. Most typhoons occur from June to December. There may be flooding and landslides. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders. Typhoon Melor (Nona) is forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to parts of the country, in particular northern Visayas and southern Luzon, from 14 December.

Around 133,665 British nationals visited the Philippines in 2014. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel to the Philippines.

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Accessing Medical Care Abroad: More Expatriates Look Locally

Cigna Global Health Benefits® (NYSE: CI) and the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) recently surveyed more than 2,700 expatriates working in 156 countries to better understand how they and their families experience, perceive and value various elements of assignment terms and programs.

While many surveys tell the global mobility story from the perspective of the employer, this survey is unique because it gathers candid feedback from the globally mobile themselves—information employers are rarely able to gather on their own.

Expat profile

Among people who work outside of their home country, three things are true: they are male (81%), middle-aged and have a family. Beyond that, all bets are off.

The globally mobile are growing older; Gen X is entering its peak earning years and Baby Boomers are remaining in the workforce longer than did previous generations. According to the survey results, many expats are leaving their families at home for various reasons. Today, many assignment locations are in emerging markets or a remote location, which is one reason expats might leave their families at home. In recent years, there has also been a dramatic increase in business and technology-related assignments with shorter durations; generally between six and 12 months. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported that they did not bring their children with them during assignment.

Although most expats still hail from the U.S., their numbers are down by 10% from just two years ago (and down 24% from the 2001 survey). Globalization is likely a factor with more companies having operations across the globe with access to qualified local talent. The U.S. tax regulations may also be a reason for the decline, making expatriation of U.S. nationals more expensive than expatriates from other countries.

Accessing medical care abroad: more expats look locally

The proportion of expats accessing medical care on assignment stayed consistent from 2013 at 79%. Seventy-five percent of expats said they access local providers for routine medical care.

Gender appears to play a role in which type and where expats and their families access care during assignment. While the rate at which men accessed care stayed about the same (78% this year versus 77% in 2013), the share of women accessing care rose five percentage points to 83%. Even though a larger percentage of women are accessing care while abroad, they are slightly less likely than men to seek care locally. However, more women (47%) said they were much more likely to seek treatment locally for serious medical care than they did in 2013 (38%).

Mobility benefits packages: Flexibility and customization

Greater flexibility in plan design was a common theme when employees were asked what employers might change or add to their global mobility assignment packages to make them more useful.

“Similar to what we saw in the 2013 results, a one-size-fits-all approach to mobility program services can lead to potential dissatisfaction, or worse, an unexpected end to a global assignment,” said Leah Cotterill, vice president, North America Client Management, Cigna Global Health Benefits. “Global mobility directors have to be cognizant of striking a balance between the needs of the business and those of the expats and their families. While the trend toward managing costs through benefits reduction might save companies money in the shorter term, the approach may not lead to longer term satisfaction, loyalty, trust or success.”

Support and communication

Results from this year’s survey indicate that certain gaps – whether real or perceived - still exist between the resources employers say they provide to expats in comparison to what employees say they need.

Communications – before, during and after assignment – are critical to expats and the success of their assignment. Survey responses indicate that employers shouldn’t be worried about over-communicating.

  • 38% of respondents received only one communication prior to departure and nearly a third received two to three.
  • More than 75% received information about their global mobility program benefits during assignment. Of this group, one in four received messages on a quarterly basis.
  • Email and phone calls with HR/global mobility representatives were the top two forms of communication with 90% and 70%, respectively.

Overall, the support employers have traditionally made available aligns with what expatriates say is needed. More than three-quarters of respondents said their employer provides help with moving household goods; setting up utilities and other settling-in needs, as well as help with finding doctors and getting vaccinations. Yet, globally mobile employees say they need more, particularly related to local culture and lifestyle.

Only 20% of information sent to expats before assignment covered local lifestyle resources such as grocery stores, child care, etc. “Prepare employees better for the cultural shock they will experience, particularly for newcomers,” said one respondent.

The use of digital communications, particularly social media, increased dramatically since the 2013 survey. More than twice as many expatriates chose Facebook this year than they did in 2013, which reflects the increasing use of social media as a human resources portal by employers.

There also appears to be a dramatic change in the perceived usefulness of digital resources. Nearly twice as many expatriates in 2015 said their employer intranet is an effective communication tool. Interestingly enough, almost half (44%) said that they either didn’t know or their employer didn’t offer online access to information concerning their mobility benefits program.

“Globally mobile employees and their families want reliable and consistent communication from employers from preparing them for assignments before they depart and ensuring they feel appropriately supported and connected while away,” commented Cotterill. “While many employers are making strides in this area, more can be done to better facilitate communication concerning global mobility program features and services for employees and their families.”

“As businesses continue to expand and compete in today’s global marketplace, the importance of global mobility has never been greater,” said Bill Sheridan, NFTC Vice President of International Human Resources. “This year’s survey results not only reflect this, but also reveal key insights into how global mobility and the expectations of expats have changed since 2013 – insights that should influence how employers meet the needs of their expats going forward.”

Expatriation: A lifestyle choice, not just an economic obligation.

This year’s results demonstrate that global mobility is no longer just an economic obligation, but is instead a lifestyle choice evolving into a career unto itself. The spirit of adventure, the potential to hone one’s qualifications and the appeal of living abroad remained the greatest influences on the decision to accept a first assignment.

One key difference to note is the proportion of expats who indicated they went abroad because they wanted to versus feeling they had to—down by 12.5% since the 2013 survey. Additionally, the number of expats who have been on five or more international assignments increased sharply to 25% from 18% in 2013. This may indicate that global mobility is becoming an occupation in its own right.

Repatriation: Just as difficult as expatriation.

Slightly more than half (54%) of expats who responded to the survey say their employer has a formal repatriation program – and yet most employers report they offer one. In fact, many respondents expressed that repatriation is effectively as difficult as expatriation.

Expats find a return home can result in culture shock. Changes in finances and taxes for the household were a big concern, as was finding new employment. “My family and I will probably need as much (if not more) help repatriating than we have needed on assignment,” said a respondent.

Many expats recommended beginning repatriation arrangements at least three months before departure. Commenting on a return home after assignment, one respondent said, “I’d like to see a repatriation program in which we are given news of the return home at least three months prior to the move so we can prepare.”

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Expats Vote Singapore Best Place To Live And Work

Singapore takes the top spot in the eighth Expat Explorer country league table, with expatriates praising the opportunities for career development, appealing salaries and an excellent quality of life.

Over a quarter (28%) of expats in Singapore earn more than USD200,000 per annum compared to 13% of expats globally. Fifty-nine per cent say the city-state is a place for career development and 79% are confident about the Singapore economy. Overall, 67% of expats say Singapore offers a better quality of life than their home country and 65% of parents say their children's health and wellbeing has improved since moving there.

The Expat Explorer survey is commissioned by HSBC Expat and conducted by YouGov. Now in its eighth year, it is the largest and one of the longest running surveys of expats, with 21,950 respondents sharing their views on different aspects of life abroad including careers, financial wellbeing, quality of life and ease of settling for partners and children. A total of 39 countries qualified for the league tables in this edition.

   
    Expat Explorer overall country league table
    2015
1. Singapore 2. New Zealand 3. Sweden 4. Bahrain 5. Germany 6. Canada 7. Australia 8. Taiwan 9. United Arab Emirates 10.Switzerland

Expat Explorer also reveals that: 

Expats today look beyond just financial rewards 

A better quality of life and the desire to take on a new challenge are the main reasons for making a move abroad. In both cases, 37% of expats say these are the reasons why they moved, compared to just over a quarter (26%) who say they did so to improve their job prospects. In fact, 61% of expats haven't benefited from an immediate salary increase since moving.

Expats are dedicated to experiencing as much as possible during their time abroad and only 11% say they haven't immersed themselves into their new culture. Destinations where expats are the most likely to have moved to improve their quality of life are New Zealand (71%), Spain (61%) and Portugal (56%).

Expat entrepreneurs blossom in the world's financial hubs 

The vast majority of expats living in the world's financial hubs of Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong or London agree they are good places to start a new business (87%, 86%, 85% and 85% respectively). This is much higher than the global average of 56%[2].

A high level of confidence in the local economy is another reason why these economic hubs suit the entrepreneurial spirit: 78% of expats in Singapore and 60% in Hong Kong feel confident about the local economy.

The opportunity to broaden their skillset is a further upside for expat entrepreneurs who have settled in one of these cities: 64% of expats in London have acquired new skills since moving, compared to 43% globally.

Most generous expat packages are found in the Middle East 

Besides high salaries and strong economic prospects, expats living in the Middle East can also enjoy unrivalled benefits packages. Health and medical allowances (70% of expats in the region benefit from these), annual trips home and airfare allowances (67%), and accommodation allowances (60%) are all far more likely to be offered as part of expat contracts in the region than in any other part of the world.

For example, in Oman, 80% of expats receive airfare allowances for trips home, compared to just 33% globally. In Qatar and theUnited Arab Emirates, 75% and 55% of expats respectively receive an accommodation allowance (compared with 33% globally).

The top countries to live for expats focused on economics, experience and family are revealed as: 

   
           Economics            Experience           Family
    1. Switzerland          1. New Zealand     1. Sweden
    2. Singapore            2. Spain           2. New Zealand
    3. Germany              3. Singapore       3. Singapore
    4. United Arab Emirates 4. Australia       4. Spain
    5. Qatar                5. Taiwan          5. Germany

#1 in the Economics league table - Switzerland attracts career-driven expats 

Switzerland comes first in the rankings as the best expat destination for career success and financial wellbeing. Seventy-seven per cent of expats feel confident about the local economy, and 53% say it is a good place to progress careers. These compare to only 48% and 41% of expats globally. A majority (63%) also thinks their work is more fulfilling in Switzerland than it was at home. On average, expats in Switzerland are more likely to enjoy more disposable income (65%), earn higher salaries (63%) and be able to save more (60%) as a result of moving to the country.

#1 in the Experience league table - New Zealand is the hotspot for a fulfilling expat experience 

New Zealand leads the way for a satisfying expat experience. Almost eight in 10 (77%) expats there find their quality of life is better than at home and well over half (63%) say making friends has been easy. Settling in is relatively quick, with 35% who felt at home instantly or within six months. The country's great outdoors is a particular draw and 57% of expats have become more physically active since moving there.

#1 in the Expat Family league table - Sweden is the most family friendly country 

A new country in the league tables, Sweden takes the top spot as the best destination for expat family life, whether that is with or without children. Expat parents in Sweden praise the childcare available - with 79% finding it better than in their home country - the ease of arranging children's education (67%), and its affordability (77%). Overall, 79% of parents say their children's quality of life is better since moving. Sweden also has a lot to offer to single expats looking to start a family: 39% say they have found a long term partner there.

Dean Blackburn, Head of HSBC Expat, comments, "Living abroad allows people to realise a whole range of ambitions. Learning new skills, enjoying a different culture or growing closer to loved ones through a shared adventure: these are just some of the rewards expats tell us they have enjoyed through their time in another country. As global mobility continues to increase, expat life is more attainable than ever before. Expats need services that keep up with their changing needs, as managing money overseas remains a challenge. Indeed, 74% tell us their finances have become more complex in some way since moving, which highlights the value of seeking help with this aspect of life."

 

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Passenger Traffic In Venezuela Falls 8.5%

Passenger traffic in Venezuela fell 8.5% in 2014 compared to a year earlier, in sharp contrast to other key economies in the region which reported growth. This decline outpaced the 3.0% GDP contraction in Venezuela during the same period, reflecting the growing impact of draconian government policies on airlines, including restrictions on the repatriation of currency. IATA urged the Venezuelan government to reform the country’s air transport policies to avert a further deterioration of the country’s already limited air connectivity.  

“The Venezuelan government’s policies are crippling the air transport sector and depriving its people of the economic benefits that it could bring. Air travel options in Venezuela are diminishing while the country’s citizens and businesses pay more to travel due to the negative impact of government policies. The 8.5% fall in passenger numbers is significant. By contrast, other key Latin American economies saw passenger growth in the 2 to 12% range. An urgent change of policies is needed,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Passenger Traffic Ranking by Country, Latin America and Caribbean 2014

Country

CountryPassengersVariation 2013/2014
Brazil 98,728,427 6.3%
Mexico 58,119,723 6.8%
Colombia 26,955,886 6.9%
​Argentina ​19,574,495 ​3.2%
​Chile ​14,743,832 ​3.8%
​Peru ​13,855,587 ​2.5%
​Venezuela ​11,420,070 ​-8.5%
​Domincan Republic ​10,426,839 ​11.9%
Source: IATA PaxIS

Venezuela is breaching international agreements and the principles of the Chicago Convention in its treatment of airlines. Some examples include:
  • Currency controls prevent airlines from repatriating their revenue; total blocked funds now stand at US$3.8 billion
  • Foreign carriers are forced to pay for fuel in US dollars instead of Venezuelan bolivars, going against the non-discriminatory spirit of the Chicago Convention which Venezuela has signed. This is particularly problematic as purchasing fuel is one of the few avenues they have for spending accumulated local currency that cannot be repatriated.
“Venezuela’s economic woes should not be an excuse for inaction. The government needs to take steps to re-orient the operating environment for air carriers to prevent an even deeper deterioration in the country’s connectivity to global markets and international trade. A single and fair bolivar (VEF) exchange rate for the sale of tickets and the payment of airline fees and charges should be established. Venezuela should also commit to a transparent consultation process with the airlines before imposing any new taxes or regulations which affect air carriers.
 
And finally, a realistic and achievable payment schedule should be established to ensure the airlines are paid the funds currently blocked in the country,” said Tyler.
 
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Security Risk Management Experts Join Forces To Address Safety Concerns of Business Travelers

In response to a growing global demand for travel risk management services, AFIMAC Global and FocusPoint International have joined forces to introduce unique products and services and penetrate the underserved global travel security market. The combined company will track business travelers and assets worldwide and help manage all types of health, safety, and security-related crises across all points of the globe.

“While demand for travel risk management has continued to skyrocket as executives, international assignees and expatriates increasingly have to travel to and operate in less safe areas worldwide, organizations have had nothing more than paper insurance policies and reports on risks to address their global security concerns,” said Peter Martin, Group President & CEO of U.S. Crisis Inc., the holding company for AFIMAC that recently acquired FocusPoint. “As industry leaders and noted experts in global security, asset tracking and crisis response, the teams at AFIMAC and FocusPoint will work together seamlessly to provide advanced TRM solutions for organizations looking to meet their duty of care obligations and eliminate the cost of response.”

Key TRM products developed by FocusPoint include MyTrac, a location-based asset-tracking solution, and Crisis Assistance Plus, a fully funded travel assistance membership program that guarantees assistance for health, safety, and security-related crises that affect members during travel. “These products are the missing link in all security-provided programs to the travel and corporate industry and align perfectly with our overall growth strategy of seizing the tremendous market opportunities within our core competency of global travel risk management,” Martin added.

Traditionally, security programs have focused on the C-suite and upper executive management levels, but the combined company will serve all business travelers regardless of their positions in their organizations, genders and ages. The companies expect demand for these services to continue to increase. Studies show that business travel contributed more than $1.8 trillion to the global economy in 2014, with spending expected to grow almost 9% in 2015 and more in coming years.

During the past 30 years, Miami-based AFIMAC has built a strong presence throughout most of the United States, Latin America, and parts of Africa. FocusPoint, with headquarters in San Diego, has expanded into portions of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The acquisition immediately doubles the footprint of both companies beyond their core geographic areas, expands their global reach, and brings additional services to their customer base.

Greg Pearson, President & CEO of FocusPoint International, added: “This transaction capitalizes on the natural synergies between AFIMAC and FocusPoint and provides FocusPoint with access to new distribution channels, infrastructure, and technical talent. We are thrilled to work with the top-notch professionals at AFIMAC.”

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Robust Passenger Demand Continues

Global passenger traffic results for July showing robust demand growth compared to July 2014 for both domestic and international traffic.

Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 8.2%, which was an improvement on the June year-over-year increase of 5.5%. July capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.5%, and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to 83.6%. Results were given a boost by the timing of Ramadan which fell partly in July this year but took place mostly in July in 2014. The holy month tends to subdue demand for air travel.

“July results were strongly positive but slowing global trade and the wild gyrations of stock exchanges around the globe suggest that we may be in for some turbulence in coming months,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

July 2015 vs. July 2014RPK GrowthASK GrowthPLF
International 8.6% 6.5% 83.5
Domestic 7.6% 6.5% 83.6
Total Market 8.2% 6.5% 83.6

 

YTD 2015 vs. YTD 2015RPK GrowthASK GrowthPLF
International 6.6% 6.2% 79.4
Domestic 6.4% 5.7% 81.2
Total Market 6.5% 6.0% 80.1

International Passenger Markets

July international passenger demand rose 8.6% compared to the same month in 2014, with airlines in all regions recording growth, including Africa for the first time this year. Total capacity climbed 6.5%, pushing load factor up 1.6 percentage points to 83.5%.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw July traffic increase 8.5% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 6.5% and load factor climbed 1.5 percentage points to 80.3%. The strong performance occurred despite notable declines in trade as well as slower than expected growth in China.

European carriers’ demand increased by 6.7%, reflecting economic recovery in the Eurozone, while capacity climbed 4.0% and load factor rose 2.2 percentage points to 87.3%, highest among the regions.

North American airlines’ traffic rose 5.3% compared to July a year ago, which was more than double the 2.6% rise achieved in June year over year. Capacity climbed 3.5% and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to 86.5%. Expectations for better economic performance are supporting travel demand.

Middle East carriers experienced a 19.8% demand surge in July over the same month in 2014 buoyed by the timing of Ramadan. Capacity rose 17.7% and load factor climbed 1.5 percentage points to 79.6%.

Latin American airlines’ July traffic climbed 8.5% compared to July 2014. Capacity increased by 8.0% and load factor rose 0.4 percentage points to 82.7%. Despite recessionary conditions in Brazil and Argentina trade volumes in the region showed strong improvement during the first half of the year, providing a boost to business-related international travel.

African airlines’ traffic moved into positive territory for the first time this year, rising 4.9% in July over July 2014. However, the result could be owing to volatility in reported volumes, as fundamental economic drivers remain weak. Capacity rose 3.9%, with the result that load factor improved 0.6 percentage points to 70.9%.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic travel demand rose 7.6% in July compared to July 2014. All markets showed growth with the strongest increases occurring in India and China. Domestic capacity climbed 6.5%, and load factor improved 0.8 percentage points to 83.6%.

July 2015 vs July 2014RPK GrowthASK GrowthPLF
Australia 2.8% 1.9% 79.8
Brazil 6.6% 5.7% 82.7
China P.R 10.9% 9.5% 81.7
India 28.1% 10.4% 80.7
Japan 0.4% -0.1% 65.5
Russian Federation 8.8% 12.2% 82.7
US 5.9% 5.5 88.4
Domestic 7.6% 6.5 83.6

India’s domestic demand soared 28.1% in July compared to a year ago likely owing to significant increases in service frequencies and improvements in economic growth.

China domestic traffic climbed 10.9% year-over-year. Recent developments in the Chinese economy, including deep declines in the country’s stock exchange, have increased concerns about a further slowdown in the economy.

The Bottom Line

“Following a strong summer the outlook heading into autumn is unsettled to say the least. While passenger demand remains healthy, air cargo growth turned negative in July. The downward movement in stock markets around the globe reflects investors’ growing concerns about slowing trade and economic growth in emerging economies, as well as China’s continued shift towards domestic markets. Aviation’s connectivity creates economic opportunities and contributes to job creation. Governments looking to shore up consumer confidence and encourage spending should be encouraging greater connectivity by removing barriers to growth such as heavy taxes and charges and infrastructure constraints,” said Tyler.

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21 Million More International Tourists In The First Half Of 2015

According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer the number of international tourist arrivals grew by 4% in the first half of 2015. Destinations worldwide received some 538 million international tourists between January and June 2015, an increase of 21 million compared to the same period of 2014.

Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East all recorded 5% growth in international arrivals and the Americas 4%. Limited data available for Africa points to an estimated 6% decrease in the number of international tourists in the region. At the subregional level, the Caribbean and Oceania (both +7%) were the best performers, together with Central and Eastern Europe and Central America (both +6%).

In spite of this overall growth, results by destination are rather mixed. Safety and security remain a global concern while the economic scenario is comparatively more volatile with the recovery of advanced economies contrasting with the slowdown of emerging economies. Tourism demand has also been impacted by lower oil prices and currency fluctuations.

“These results show that, despite increased volatility, tourism continues to consolidate the positive performance it has had over the last five years and to provide development and economic opportunities worldwide”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “As UNWTO prepares to meet in Medellin, Colombia, for its 21st General Assembly, this is the appropriate moment to call for a stronger support to tourism as the sector has the potential to deliver on some of the most pressing challenges of our time, namely job creation, economic growth and social inclusion”, he added.

According to the UNWTO forecast issued at the beginning of 2015, international tourist arrivals are expected to increase by 3% to 4% worldwide for the whole year, in line with the long-term forecast of an average growth of 3.8% a year set for the period 2010 to 2020.

Europe, the most visited region in the world, led growth and increased international arrivals by 5%, benefiting from a weaker currency in the euro area. Growth was driven by the recovery in Central and Eastern Europe (+6%), while Western Europe, Northern Europe and Southern Mediterranean Europe (each +5%) all outgrew the worldwide average.

Asia and the Pacific recorded a 5% increase in international arrivals in the first half of 2015, with Oceania (+7%) in the lead. Destinations in North-East Asia and South-East Asia (both +5%) reported rather mixed results, led by Japan (+47% through July) and Thailand (+30% through July). South Asia recorded a comparatively modest 4% increase in arrivals after two years of double-digit growth.

International arrivals in the Americas grew by 4% in the first half of 2015, consolidating last year’s strong results. All four subregions recorded positive growth, although with variations across destinations. The strong US dollar fuelled robust outbound demand from the United States. The Caribbean (+7%) and Central America (+6%) led growth. In North America (+3%), arrival numbers were strong in Canada and Mexico (both +8%), while for the United States indications point to more modest growth. Most destinations in South America (+4%) reported sound results, in spite of Brazil’s outbound travel stalling.

The limited data available for Africa indicates that international tourist numbers were down by 6% with a decline of 10% in arrivals to North Africa and 4% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Alongside the impacts of the terrorist attacks, African destinations have been impacted by the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak in a few West African countries and the slower growth of regional economies depending on the export of oil and other commodities.

International tourist arrivals in the Middle East grew by 5% consolidating the recovery initiated in 2014.

(Data for Africa and Middle East should be taken with caution as it is based on limited available data.)

Source markets show mixed results

In terms of outbound tourism, data for the first quarters of 2015 shows a diverse picture in spending abroad.

Among the emerging markets, China and India both started the year with double-digit growth in the first quarter, while expenditure from the Russian Federation and Brazil reflected the slower economic growth in both markets and the depreciation of the rouble and the real against the US dollar and the euro.

As for the traditional advanced economy source markets, demand from the United States, France, Sweden and Spain remains strong, while it is weaker in Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada.

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India Travel Warning: Flood Warnings For Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam And West Bengal

A flood warning has been issued to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and West Bengal due to the possibility of heavy rainfall in the foothills of the Himalayas over the next few days. The rainfall will also lead to swelling of rivers Kosi, Gandak and Ghaghara, tributaries of Ganga and all tributaries of Brahmaputra.

You should monitor local and international weather updates from the Indian Meteorological Department and follow the advice of local authorities and your travel company.

Over 800,000 British nationals visit India every year.

Before you travel to India, take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance and read the India specific health information and advice published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre. Be sure to speak with a professional insurance intermediary and check the coverage and small print. If you are taking the time to travel, you need to protect yourself and family financially if your holiday goes wrong. 

An emergency abroad can be extremely expensive. Your credit card accident cover, home insurance or private health cover is not always sufficient. If travelling within the European Economic Areas you will need an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as well as medical and travel insurance.

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International Medical Insurance Round Tables

International Medical Cost Containment Strategies 2018

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