New reports show travel risks around the world

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From catching Covid-19 to getting caught in a blizzard, traveling can be a risky business these days.

But just how risky often depends on the destination — and how you define the risks.

Safest cities: people’s perceptions

A report published by the UK-based insurance company William Russell ranked the “safest cities in the world,” according to people’s perceptions.

On this list, which relied on perceived crime rates on the crowdsourced global database Numbeo, Asia and Europe dominated the rankings of “safest” cities.

Taiwan’s Taipei scored the highest, while Buenos Aires, Argentina, ranked the lowest (score: 36.7), according to the report.

Safest cities: health and politics

But the top five places for “health and safety” in Euromonitor International’s “Top 100 City Destinations Index 2022” are different.

That ranking, published in December, analyzed “political stability and social safety,” which includes the impact of Covid-19 (such as total cases, death and vaccination rates) as well as road injury accidents, government corruption and terrorism statistics.

Here, cities in the Middle East and Asia came out on top.

  1. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
  2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  3. Doha, Qatar
  4. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  5. Singapore, Singapore

Paris topped market research company Euromonitor International’s “Top 100 City Destinations” for 2022, but the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah, shown here, ranked highest in terms of health and safety.

Stefan Tomic | E+ | Getty Images

“The Middle East … takes the first four positions,” said Vitalij Vladykin, senior research manager at Euromonitor International, while “Singapore is ranked first in terms of the political stability category in 2019-2022.”

“Health and safety” is one of six factors used by Euromonitor International to compile its annual city destinations index.

Safest places: medical risks

A report by the travel security firm International SOS not only analyzes infectious disease risks, but also factors that can affect medical care, such as quality of specialist and emergency services, availability of medicines and language barriers.

Its Travel Risk Map 2023 shows that much of North America and Western Europe — as well as places like Turkey, Israel, Japan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates — have “low” medical risks.

Medical risks by country.

International SOS

The map shows Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and parts of Africa have “very high” medical risks, which International SOS defines as having “almost non-existent or severely overtaxed” health-care systems.

The countries colored in purple have “significant variation” in medical risks, which can mean discrepancies in care levels between cities and rural areas, according to the report.

This map does not reflect the Covid-19 outbreak currently occurring in China, said Dr. Irene Lai, medical director at International SOS. Rather than showing specific disease outbreaks, the map focuses on “background” medical situations in countries around the world, she said.

Safest places: security risks

International SOS’s Travel Risk Map also assesses security risks, which include crime as well as political violence such as terrorism and war, social unrest and susceptibility to natural disasters, according to the company.

Sally Llewellyn, International SOS’ security director, said that some 25 spots around the world have “insignificant” security risks: American Samoa, Andorra, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, Norway, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turks and Caicos, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna.

Some countries have varying risk levels within their borders. For example, the map shows most of Egypt has “high” security risks, but risks are lower in Cairo and areas east of the Nile River.

Mexico has a combination of “medium” and “high” risks on the map, while Thailand’s borders with Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia are deemed to be riskier than the rest of the country, according to the map.

International SOS said security risks increased in several places this year, including Ukraine, Colombia and the Sahel.

The Sahel is a region in North Africa that includes portions of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan and other countries. The region has a mix of “high” and “extreme” security risks, according to the map.

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