The 737MAX grounding, US-China contention and unrest in Hong Kong hit travel in 2019; will remain a major threat and continue to impact the sector into 2020

Some of the major factors to influence the travel and tourism sector in 2019 will remain among the biggest threats for the coming year, according to risk management solutions expert WorldAware.

Its annual global forecast for 2020 examines worldwide trends in transportation, environmental, health and geopolitical risks and highlights the 737MAX grounding, US-China geopolitical contention and unrest in Hong Kong among the top threats to organisations and individuals in the year ahead

The Global Forecast 2020 report breaks down key global threats for businesses and organisations seeking to protect their people and operations, no matter their location or circumstance. It is compiled by members of WorldAware’s team of intelligence experts, drawing from more than 21,000 sources in 25 different languages.

It predicts that the Boeing 737MAX story will continue into 2020 when the grounded airline programme will once again return to the air. “The Boeing 737MAX may not be safe despite return to service,” warns the report. Despite efforts to make improvements, WorldAware remains concerned about the aircraft’s safety as “the safeguards that were designed to detect and eliminate design flaws clearly failed in the design and certification of the 737 MAX”.

There remains much concern over whether passengers would accept flights on the 737MAX once it is recertificated. In fact WorldAware in its report recommends travellers “consider avoid flying on the 737MAX for one year after it returns to service”. It also suggests that companies should consider “adjusting corporate travel policies” to accommodate travellers concerned with the 737MAX’s safety.

When it comes to the US-China relationship, regardless of trade war outcomes, the report predicts that “contention will persist” and this will have risk implications for Hong Kong and the international community.

WorldAware suggests that continuing competition between the two powers “will remain the focal point of regional geopolitics” and this contention will remain “the primary driving force alerting the economic, security and political conditions throughout the Asia-Pacific region”. It will mean that many foreign corporations operating in China “will be exposed to political threats” arising from this trend.

The contention between the world’s largest economies is expected to impact a variety of key fronts, both influencing and being influenced by developments. The report suggests this will further tensions in the midst of ongoing unrest in Hong Kong, but also predicts implications in Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

Weather and climate will continue to have a significant impact on business continuity, notes the report. “Natural disasters including wildfires and hurricanes can continue to cause disruptions to shipping processes or damages to infrastructure,” it highlights.

Additionally, as climate change continues to progress, “climate activism will become more frequent, potentially impacting businesses”. This could ultimately mean that key industries including oil, gas, coal, beef and palm oil “can expect to be frequently targeted by global climate strikes,” it warns.

In terms of personal safety, the proliferation of “light kidnapping” in Latin America will persist, posing additional threats to travellers in the region, according to the report.

“Latin America has a particularly high incidence of express kidnapping, where sustained economic challenges, high levels of corruption and political instability continue to fuel crime. In countries where government-led interventions aimed at stemming the threat of crime and traditional kidnappings are ongoing, criminal actors have shifted to perpetrating relatively less risky express and light kidnappings to reduce their risk of capture,” it explains.

But, that is not all. Other notable assessments in the report include a look at continued political protests in Latin America, rising tensions in the Middle East, Brexit’s impact on public activism and elections in Africa that could destabilise areas in the region.

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