Members of the Chinese community celebrate the Lunar New Year of the Dog with a colourful parade
Members of the Chinese community celebrate the Lunar New Year of the Dog with a colourful parade, complete with dragon dances and traditional costumes in Usera district in Madrid, Spain February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Javier Barbancho Reuters

With the Chinese New Year holiday fast approaching, International SOS, the world's leading medical and security risk services company, offers practical advice to help travellers stay safe, secure and healthy.

This year, the official Chinese New Year holiday will commence on 4 February. Along with those lucky enough to be visiting or staying in Singapore for the celebrations, anyone attending Chinese New Year celebrations in cities around the world, such as China, New York, London or Sydney, should also take health and security precautions. The popularity of the celebrations worldwide inevitably results in large crowds, where vigilance is recommended. Incidents, from petty crime to attacks can occur, and the risk of illnesses also need to be considered.

Dr. Echo Li, Medical Director of Assistance Service for International SOS China, suggests, "After a hardworking year, it makes sense that people simply want to make the most of the holidays to relax and enjoy a great time with family. However, it is prudent to remind people that risks can be all around during this busy festive season. There will be increased traffic on the roads, the flu season is ongoing in the northern hemisphere, and medical institutions potentially have shortened opening hours. Good preparation and awareness to these risks are crucial to consider for a healthy and safe Spring Festival."

With the exponential growth in travel demand over the holiday, and accommodation options multiplying, Tony Ma further reminded travellers that, "When it comes to choosing accommodation, safety often does not make it to the top of travellers' considerations. But your accommodation is where you spend 1/3 of your time. It is critically important to take safety into account when selecting your hotel."

Known as the biggest human migration in the world, the Spring Festival travel season (or the "Chunyun" in Mandarin) in China, is expected to see more than 406 million passengers using the national railway network alone this year. It is estimated that more than 400 million people will travel during the long holiday this year, and, among which, 7 million will embark on international trips.

Tony Ma, Director of Client Liaison for International SOS and Control Risks China, commented "While China is rated a low travel risk destination, it is expected that petty crime could surge during the celebrations. This should be anticipated particularly in crowded areas, such as temple fairs, public transport hubs and tourist sites. Please stay vigilant at all times."

International SOS offers the following Hotel Safety Checklist for travellers over the holiday season.

Choose hotels that have...

  • Surveillance systems in the lobby and around the grounds
  • Well-controlled access to the main entrance
  • Security guards
  • Resilient communication capabilities
  • Multi-lingual staff, particularly if you don't speak the local language

Choose a hotel room that is...

  • Away from the lobby or public areas
  • Near an emergency exit
  • Equipped with a keychain, deadbolt and spy-hole
  • Without interlocking doors
  • Located on 2nd – 6th floor

Location

  • Research the area surrounding the hotel: avoid areas associated with high crime and protests.
  • In areas where there are significant threats from conflict or terrorism, choose a hotel away from main roads and government or diplomatic buildings.
  • Consider the timing of your trip to avoid potentially disruptive events or protests.

Be vigilant throughout your stay

  • Check that the locks on doors and windows work inside your room—and use them.
  • Familiarize yourself with emergency evacuation plans and routes.
  • Don't share your room number.
  • Pack and use a doorstop.
  • Have a grab bag of essentials including your passport, water, and phone charger prepared in advance.
  • Leave the light on so that you can easily check that the room is secure on returning. If a room key card is required to keep the electricity on, request an extra one.

You can download the SOS hotel safety white paper here and pocketbook here. For further information on protecting the global workforce will be available at www.internationalsos.com.