Americans think Asian countries are safer to travel than 4 years ago
A new study shows that American travelers view many Asian countries as safer travel destinations than they did four years ago.
South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, China and Vietnam have risen in the annual safety rankings released by insurance company Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
The 2022 State of Travel Survey also found that some of America’s favorite travel destinations in Europe and the Caribbean, namely Italy, the Bahamas, Spain, Jamaica and the UK, have lost ground in terms of perceived travel safety.
Australia also suffered. From 2018 to 2022, the country dropped from 1st to 10th place in the survey.
The “safest” places to travel
Three Asian countries ranked among the top 10 safest travel destinations in a September 2021 survey of over 1,500 Americans.
The survey asked travelers about their perceptions of crime, terrorism, transportation, and health, as well as the safety of travelers who are women, people of color, or LGBTQ people.
Singapore, a city-state not included in the ranking of countries in the study, ranked 3rd in the ranking of the safest cities, ahead of Tokyo (5th) and Bangkok (11th).
According to the company, Singapore was ranked 21st (out of 56) in 2020 and 25th (out of 53) in 2019 on Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s list of safest destinations.
Taiwan was not included in the survey, according to a company spokesperson.
According to the survey, women and millennials are more likely to view Asian destinations as safer.
After Iceland (No. 1), millennials named South Korea and Thailand the two safest travel destinations in the world. The cumulative ratings also showed that they consider Vietnam (No. 6) slightly safer than Greece (No. 7).
Millennials – those who are now between 27 and 42 years old – also ranked Singapore in first place. on “general safety” in the city overview, ahead of Montreal and Amsterdam.
Changing Perceptions of “Safety”
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, terrorism and violent crime were top traveler safety concerns, said Carol Mueller, vice president of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
But in a 2022 survey, travelers said their biggest concern was “being able to move freely” and stay “free of disease,” she said. According to her, responses to surveys showed that being stuck in the country even eclipsed the fear of getting sick there.
“It has become a problem, okay, I’m going to travel. I am vaccinated, I feel comfortable,” she said. “But… what happens if I get stuck?”
That’s probably why Canada tops the list, she said. Canada reopened to vaccinated Americans in August 2021, a month before the survey took place. Its proximity to the United States worked for travelers who wanted to “stay closer to home,” she said.
Australia’s reduced perception of safety “may be due to … their tight Covid restrictions – the safety of not being able to go home when you want to go home,” she said. Australia’s borders were closed at the time of the survey.
Movement in the ranking
Iceland and Sweden have maintained their rankings as safe travel destinations, while Italy, which has always scored high, has fallen due to the difficulty of entering the country and “because of what’s going on with Covid,” Müller said.
Mueller said the survey “can’t get into the minds” of respondents, but she noted that places that were prominently featured in the news about the Covid outbreaks, such as the UK, could have been affected by the coverage.
She also said that the poll’s methodology change in 2022 could have affected the rankings.
“Only people who have actually visited a destination can appreciate its safety,” she said. “From a distance, it is easy to think that European countries are safer. But people who have actually been to many Asian countries know firsthand how safe they are.”
Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection also released a separate ranking of the safest countries and citieswhich combined the survey results with crime statistics and Covid performance indicators, Muller said.
Will perception last?
Many Asian countries that moved up in the rankings were were praised by medical experts for the tactics they used to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following Abu Dhabi, Singapore was ranked 2nd and Seoul 3rd in the global rankings by London-based Deep Knowledge Analytics, which analyzed the response to the pandemic in 72 cities.
Both countries, along with Japan, have some lowest Covid death rates in the world among countries with at least 1,000 cases, according to research website Statista.
How countries respond to Covid will affect how tourists perceive the safety of their travels both before and during their trips, said Rachel Fu, director of the University of Florida’s Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute.
She said it would be important for both regional and international tourists.
“The facts will have historical value as future generations look back at how each country … has handled the pandemic,” she said. “History will take responsibility.”