What are the risks to international travellers over the next 12 months?

Risks to businesses

Security risks to businesses are becoming ever more complex and difficult to define. Businesses are obliged to plan for and implement measures to reduce reasonably foreseeable risks. With employees now working from home in increasing numbers and travelling overseas to a wider range of destinations and the array of threats widening businesses now have a larger share of responsibility for a problem that is becoming more difficult to define.

The principal risks

We believe that terrorism will again pose the most serious headline risk to travellers – although the more prosaic threat of general crime will probably cost travellers more in terms of loss of property and injury.

Islamist extremists are by no means the only terrorists of concern to travellers. Left-wing, right-wing and nationalist militant groups will continue to pose problems to travellers. But the risk from Islamist extremists will continue to be dominant and Islamic State (IS) will be the main proponent of international terrorism.

Although Islamic State has lost its stranglehold in Syria and Iraq its influence on transnational Islamist terrorism remains. IS has either carried out or motivated home-grown groups to carry out the majority of terrorist attacks in Western countries, Asia and west and east Africa since 2014 and this pattern is set to continue.

IS’s setbacks in Syria and Iraq are likely to lead to an outflow of foreign fighters and increased attacks against Western interests and promote fragmentation among Islamist extremist groups worldwide. Europe is likely to remain the principal target of IS and IS-affiliated extremist attacks.

Al-Qaida and its myriad local affiliates also remains a threat. While al-Qaida’s core leadership remains under pressure in Afghanistan and Pakistan, its affiliates in Yemen, the Sahel region of West Africa, Somalia and Syria have been able to exploit local instability and insecurity to sustain their organisations and operations. Additionally, the relative decline of IS in Syria and Iraq is likely to strengthen al-Qaida affiliates, particularly in the Middle East.

So, for travellers, it is more of the same over the coming year in terms of Islamist extremist terrorism.

Other risks

The risk of war on the Korean peninsula – never quite as great as the war of words – has dissipated quite significantly.

Russia’s military intervention in Syria has raised its international profile among Islamist extremist terrorists and increased the country’s attractiveness as a target for Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates and sympathisers. IS has expressed intent to target major cities in Russia, and possible locations for attacks include shopping malls (centres), transport hubs, crowded tourist areas and large sporting events including the FIFA World Cup which Russia is hosting in June-July 2018.

Racially motivated attacks in Russia are a serious concern, particularly in the capital Moscow and St. Petersburg. They are predominantly directed against migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus region, but people of African, Asian and Middle Eastern appearance are also targeted and a broadening of the targets to include Westerners cannot be ruled out.

Russia’s threats externally and the threat of war resulting from Russia’s transgressions on the world stage are not significant.

Supplied by Alexei Cantacuzene-Speransky at Rose Partners