Business Traveller

Thailand in July?

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Thailand goes to the polls on July 3 and no one can predict the precise outcome of the country’s divisive political battle. How carefully should business travellers tread, pre- and post-election?

Since populist former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was deposed in a military coup in September 2006, the world has watched Thailand and its capital Bangkok – a long-stable travel and business hub – grapple with political and civil conflict.

Though this is a country pulled passionately, occasionally violently, between the warring urban, middle-class, royalist, anti-Thaksin, ‘People’s Alliance for Democracy’ yellow-shirts; and the pro-Puea Thai party, Thaksin-enfranchised, rural, working-class red-shirts (each side has myriad internal divisions and many Thais find favour and fault with both), travellers and in-country expatriates tend not to be much put off by the frisson.

It’s hard to pin down why this is. I was based in Bangkok between 2000 and 2007; the biggest inconvenience I suffered during the 2006 coup was a sudden dearth of taxis to take me home from an amateur dramatics production I was rehearsing the night it was called; three years later, between March and May 2010, my friends’ Facebook status updates complained of a slightly more complicated school run to avoid the besieged central areas of Bangkok held to ransom by red-shirt protesters. At least 91 people lost their lives during this mayhem; blocks away it was business as usual.

Fear of flying

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Seventy-four percent of UK citizens believe that airports and aeroplanes are vulnerable to a malicious or terrorist attack.

So finds the latest Unisys Security Index*, announced today, a global survey that seeks to provide insights into consumers’ general perception of security. Unisys says that UK public anxiety has reached its peak since they began the bi-annual review in 2007, and it is driven by concerns about terrorism, financial issues and identity theft.

The corporate card game

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You work for a boutique-sized firm. For want of a better term, you’re in middle-management. You don’t have a corporate credit card but are on the road quite a bit. Sometimes you’re away for over a fortnight and need to shell out a couple of thousand pounds for flights and hotel rooms and rental cars and expensive dinners. That all goes on your personal credit card.

You have access to a whizzy online expense tool, but repayments are not instant. Your credit card direct-debits your current account and your overdraft function can’t take that kind of hit. Your credit card company hits you for interest.