Terrorism is the 'new normal'

Published Thursday, June 16, 2016

Declan Meighan, Global Security Director, Healix International speaks about 'Duty of Care - Traveller Safety' at a recent International Travel & Health Insurance Conference (ITIC).

undefinedAlthough terrorism is something that people are very mindful of at the present time, said Declan, and 50% of people have said they'd change their destination if an incident happened in or near their resort, there are still a lot of people who would still travel. 

Terrorism, he said, is the 'new normal'.  In fact, there are only 10 countries in total with a low risk of terrorism according to the FCO - including Japan, the Seychelles, the Bahamas, Costa Rica and Iceland - which means that all other countries are considered medium or high risk.  But, he asked, do low-risk countries eventually attract terrorism?

Most of the recent attacks we've seen - including in Brussels, Paris, Egypt and Bangkok - have had strong objectives (e.g. imposition of global Sharia rule), said Declan, with the terrorists demonstrating an extensive capability to carry out attacks in major cities.  They have major supply and support networks, as well as breakaway groups, supporting their ideology, and targeting tourists helps them to achieve their strategic objectives.  

Cells acting in a compartmentalised fashion make them hard for security services to penetrate, he added; they are targeting commercial and residential targets, have social media strategies to obtain recruits, and use the media to spread fear and intimidation.  The current migrant movements are also an easy way for terrorists to move unseen across Europe.  In terms of legal responsibility for traveller safety, this lies in different areas.  In the corporate world, companies have duty of care responsibilities for their employees; in the leisure industry tourists are free to avoid destinations associated with risk, but tour operators, source governments and destination governments need to communicate more, said Declan, and ideally give consistent advice for travellers and travel insurers.

The current terror threat is not going away, he concluded - it's here to stay, as there is no end objective that can be won.  Accepting this is key to managing the problem.  Best practice for the travel and related industries lies in co-operation between security services and the tourism sector to gather and share any information on security-related issues, which can be disseminated through various communication channels such as the media, social media, travel advisories, travel agents and assistance partners.

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