In the New Year, Travel with Minimal Risk
2021 was a year of both progress and setbacks for eager travelers. Over the last year, some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations reopened to the public, air travel increased, and cruise ships returned to the seas as COVID-19 vaccination rates increased. However, the discovery of a new coronavirus variant, Omicron, in late November prompted increased travel warnings and tightened entry requirements. As a result, in 2022, travelers will be looking for safe destinations once more.
Here’s an early look at some of the best options, based on the most recent State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, as well as data from the 2021 Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks more than 160 countries around the world based on the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarization, and travel insurance company Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates in the Middle East, which boasts coveted destinations such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is one of just over a dozen countries to receive a Level 1 travel advisory for 2022. The CDC also warns of a low COVID-19 level in the UAE, which ranks a solid 26th on the GPI.
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands, like the UAE, begins the new year with both the State Department and the CDC issuing Level 1 travel advisories. Of course, the islands are open to international travel, with officials recently relaxing entry requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.
The Level 2 grouping, like the State Department’s list of Level 1 countries, isn’t particularly crowded as the year 2022 approaches. Jamaica, on the other hand, begins the year as one of those countries, with officials advising visitors to exercise extra caution due to COVID-19 and crime, and the CDC indicating a moderate level of coronavirus within the island’s borders.
Travelers looking for some much-needed sun, sand, and sea in 2022 can do so with confidence in The Bahamas. Both the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Level 2 travel advisories to the islands in December. Lowering the advisories was hailed by tourism officials as “proof that our protocols and protective measures to combat COVID-19 in The Bahamas are working.”
The State Department and CDC, like the vast majority of countries around the world, advise against traveling to Iceland in 2022. While COVID-19 remains a global threat, the European island country ranks first on the GPI and tops Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s list of the safest places to visit in 2022.
Fiji is a bucket-list destination for many travelers, and while the country has reopened with COVID-19 testing requirements in place, future visitors will be relieved to know that it starts the year at Level 1 on the State Department’s travel advisory scale. Meanwhile, the CDC has issued a Level 1 travel advisory for Fiji, indicating that the virus is present in low concentrations on the islands.
While COVID-19 has prompted Level 3 travel advisories from the State Department and CDC heading into 2022, the North American destination just across the U.S. border ranks 12th globally on the 2021 GPI and third on Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s list of the safest places to travel to in 2022.
Due to COVID-19, the State Department advises travelers to exercise increased caution in Grenada, and the CDC has issued a similar Level 2 Travel Health Notice for the Caribbean island, indicating a moderate level of coronavirus. The Spice Isle will be open to visitors in 2022, with COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and quarantine requirements in place.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, New Zealand has been off-limits to most travelers worldwide, but the arrival of 2022 provides hope that international tourists will soon be welcomed back. The island nation is ranked third on the 2021 GPI, trailing only Iceland and Denmark, and is ranked second on Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s list of the safest places to visit in 2022.