Wednesday, January 26

European cities lead travel openness ratings in new analysis

European finance and tourism capitals dominate a Bloomberg ranking of the 70 global cities most open to travelers, based on vaccination rates, local public health rules, and Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Madrid, Vienna and Barcelona top the list. Of the top 10, nine are in Europe. Mexico City is the only non-European destination that ranks at the top tier, according to Bloomberg analysis. Cities in the Asia-Pacific regions are among the least accessible, in part due to the use of quarantines for travelers and continued public health restrictions.

No US city made it into the top 10. The US continues to limit travel from some countries and requires coronavirus testing to enter, hurting its grades. Many US destinations that Bloomberg analyzed still have public health restrictions, such as mask requirements or business capacity limits. But the ratings of US cities are likely to change next month, when the Biden administration plans to open travel to most vaccinated visitors.

The rankings show the uneven pace at which the world is reopening to business and leisure travelers. Even with vaccination tests or other public health measures at borders, such as tests, some parts of the world remain difficult or impossible to access.

Highly-rated European destinations allow wide access, often without requiring tests to enter if travelers are vaccinated, and have relaxed public health restrictions. They also have high local vaccination rates.

While the US had an advantage in administering vaccines to residents due to early vaccine purchases from manufacturers, European vaccination rates have in many cases reached and exceeded US levels, according to Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Locations are given an overall rating based on a combination of factors: how difficult it is to enter a country due to Covid-19 travel rules requiring testing or quarantine, the local vaccination rate, and the public health requirements of the city ​​and commercial opening.

Asia Pacific destinations dominate the bottom of the list. Cities like Beijing and Shanghai, Sydney and Auckland are essentially closed to non-residents. Some destinations, such as Seoul, impose mandatory quarantines for the destinations from which they allow travel. In South Africa, Johannesburg allows visitors, but there are more limitations on activities and there are general mask rules. Popular vacation destinations like Nassau, Bahamas, and Montego Bay, Jamaica, have put local limits on places like bars and restaurants.

However, just because travel is easy to some places doesn’t mean it’s happening in large numbers. While European cities top the ratings, the volume of flights to destinations on the continent is still significantly lower compared to 2019, before the pandemic. Of the 70 destinations that Bloomberg tracks, seat capacity has only increased in Mexico, Greece and the Dominican Republic, while travel in Europe continues to decline considerably.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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