The Safest Tourist destinations in 2021
Covid Safety Ranking
With COVID-19 hitting the travel industry hard, it’s becoming important to choose a safe destination for your next vacation. Although there are destinations with virtually no infections, they are either very remote or do not offer the range of attractions and cultural diversity that can be expected from top international destinations.

Top 20 pre-COVID destinations

In 2019, around 1.5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded worldwide. The top 20 destinations received 855 million international tourists—that’s 58.6% of the total.

France alone received nearly 90 million international tourists (6% of the total), making it the number one destination.

Out of the top 20 destinations, 10 were in Europe, five in Asia, and three in America. Another two destinations, Russia and Turkey, each span two continents, Asia and Europe.

COVID safety ranking

By looking at the numbers, we can rank these top 20 destinations by their COVID mortality and infections.

The safest destinations post-COVID

The 5 safest destinations are all in East Asia:

1. Thailand
Thailand is the destination with the lowest overall risk. With only five infections per 100,000 and less than one death per 1 million, the “Land of Smiles” secures the top spot. It was the eighth most popular destination for international travelers in 2019, which is a nod to the country’s high standard of hospitality. Thailand’s food is world-famous, but its temples, beaches, islands, and culture make it well worth a visit.

2. China
China has low infection rates, like Thailand, but nearly four times the mortality rate. The country where COVID originated has kept mortality and infections low through its strict lockdown. It is an amazing tourism destination brimming with diversity and fascinating history.

3. Malaysia
Malaysia ranks third, but compared with Thailand, has already 22 times the number of infections per capita. It is famous for its islands, mountains, and food.

4 + 5. Hong Kong and Japan
Both destinations had more than 13 times Thailand’s mortality and infection rates.

High-risk destinations

Unfortunately, the list of unsafe destinations is much longer.

The top three destinations by tourist numbers—France, Spain, and the USA—are amongst the worst hit by COVID-19.

Spain, the USA, Mexico, Italy, and France each have more than 700 times Thailand’s mortality rate.

Even the best ranked, Greece, has more than 80 times Thailand’s mortality rate.

How did Thailand handle COVID?

Thailand has a very good health care system that covers the basics at a low cost. It also offers high-end surgeries and procedures at internationally competitive prices, making the country a leading destination for medical tourism from Australia and the US.

But like most countries, Thailand’s health care system was not designed or equipped to treat large numbers of ICU patients.
Thailand was the first country to record a COVID infection outside of China. The government implemented strict lockdown measures, knowing the health care system could not easily handle a pandemic.

Having been hit by SARS in 2003, the Avian flu in 2004, and MERS in 2015, the population had learned its lessons and reacted in exemplary ways. Even now, months after COVID hit Thailand, the population remains extremely disciplined, with most of the population continuing to wear face masks.

The few infections recorded every week can be mostly traced back to overseas returnees and are detected during their mandatory quarantine. In the very rare case that a member of the public gets infected, the Thai government does not hesitate to put thousands of people in lockdown to protect the rest of its population.

Although heavy security precautions are in place to keep infection rates low, the country slowly began opening its borders to tourists at the end of October 2020. Only about 100 tourists have so far been allowed into Thailand, but these numbers are expected to grow significantly in 2021.

Lingo Ninja

At Lingo Ninja, we’re building the best platform to learn Thai. But we also take time to study the broader field of language learning, and topics affecting Thailand and the world.

We analyzed the infection and mortality rates according to worldometer (, and the data was retrieved on November 8, 2020. The COVID ranking lists the destinations first by mortality and then by infection rate.

Data on inbound tourist numbers are from the World Tourism Organization, Statistical annex, October 2020. The 2019 data for France was not available at the time of this writing, so the 2018 data was used instead.

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