A new study shows that American travelers view many Asian nations as safer travel destinations now than they did four years ago.
South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, China and Vietnam rose in the annual security rankings published by travel insurance provider Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
The 2022 “State of Travel Insurance Report” survey also showed that some of America’s favorite travel destinations in Europe and the Caribbean, namely Italy, the Bahamas, Spain, Jamaica and the United Kingdom, they lost ground in terms of perceived travel safety.
Australia also took a hit. From 2018 to 2022, the country fell from 1st to 10th place in the survey.
Three Asian nations ranked among the top 10 safest travel destinations in the September 2021 survey of more than 1,500 Americans.
The survey asked travelers about their perceptions regarding crime, terrorism, transportation and health, as well as the safety of travelers who are women, people of color or LGBTQ.
Singapore, a city-state that was not included in the survey’s country rankings, was ranked No. 3 in the safest city rankings, ahead of Tokyo (No. 5) and Bangkok (No. 11).
Singapore finished 21st (out of 56) in 2020 and 25th (out of 53) in 2019 on Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protections’ list of safest destinations, the company said.
Taiwan was not included in the survey, according to a company representative.
Women and millennials were more likely to view Asian destinations as safer, according to the survey.
After Iceland (No. 1), millennials ranked South Korea and Thailand as the next two safest travel destinations in the world. Composite scores also showed that they view Vietnam (#6) as slightly safer than Greece (#7).
Millennials, those currently between the ages of 27 and 42, also rated Singapore as number 1 of “general safety” in the city survey, ahead of Montreal and Amsterdam.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, terrorism and violent crime were top security concerns for travelers, said Carol Mueller, vice president of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
But in the 2022 survey, travelers said they were most concerned about “being able to move freely” and staying “free from disease,” he said. Survey responses indicated that being stuck in a country even overshadowed fears of getting sick there, he said.
“It became a concern of, okay, I’m going to travel. I am vaccinated, I feel comfortable,” she said. “But… what if I get stuck?”
That’s probably why Canada tops the list, he said. Canada reopened to vaccinated Americans in August 2021, the month before the survey was conducted. Its proximity to the United States worked for travelers who wanted to “stay closer to home,” she said.
Australia’s diminished perception of safety “could be due to … its tight Covid restrictions – the safety of not being able to get home when you want to get home,” he said. Australia’s borders were closed at the time the survey was conducted.
Iceland and Sweden maintained their ranking as safe travel destinations, while Italy, which has always scored highly, fell due to the difficulty of entering the country and “because of what was going on with Covid,” Mueller said.
Mueller said the survey “can’t get into the minds” of those surveyed, but noted that places that were high on the news about Covid outbreaks, such as the UK, could have been affected by the coverage.
He also said the rankings could have been affected by a change in the survey methodology in 2022.
“Only people who have actually visited a destination can weigh in on its safety,” he said. “From a distance, it’s easy to think that European countries are safer. But people who have visited many Asian countries know firsthand how safe they are.”
Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection also published a separate set of rankings for the safest countries Y citieswhich combined the survey results with crime statistics and Covid performance factors, Mueller said.
Many of the Asian nations that moved up the rankings were praised by medical experts for the tactics they used to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following Abu Dhabi, Singapore ranked #2 and Seoul #3 in a global ranking by the London-based analytics agency Deep Knowledge Analytics which analyzed responses to the pandemic in 72 cities.
Both countries, along with Japan, have some of the The lowest Covid-related mortality rates in the world among nations with at least 1,000 reported cases, according to data research website Statista.
How countries responded to Covid will affect how tourists perceive their travel safety, both before and during their trips, said Rachel Fu, director of the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute at the University of Florida.
He said it will be important for regional and international tourists alike.
“The facts will be recorded with historical value as future generations look back on how each country…dealt with the pandemic,” he said. “History will hold us accountable.”