The analysis

Destinations to avoid,
for reasons other than Covid-19

TORONTO – The year is drawing to a close and so too is the holiday season and all the craziness of 2021. From Covid-19 infections and its multiple mutations to catastrophic heat waves and deadly floods, it has been a tumultuous year. With 2022 around the corner, people are hoping for better days ahead and dreaming of that much needed getaway to escape all the mayhem.

Last Friday’s publication featured some of the most visited countries in the world. So, assuming you pass the Covid clearance having been fully vaccinated, having received a negative Covid-19 test prior to departure and successfully booked a flight, the following is a list of countries you may want to avoid.

Surprisingly, the risk of contracting Covid-19 does not factor into the methodology. It is not to say that these countries are infection free, for the highly transmissible Omicron variant has been detected in more than 100 nations.

Rather, these are some of the places you may wish to bypass on account of the dangerously high homicide rates.

According to Statista, which ranked the most dangerous countries in 2021 on the basis of the homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants, countries located in Central America and the Caribbean were among the global “hotspots”. For instance, El Salvador, with a murder rate of 82.8 victims per 100,000 people, travellers would be wise to steer clear.

Just by the numbers, with Honduras, at 56.5, Venezuela at 56.3 and the US Virgin Islands at 49.3, at those rates, tourists will likely feel more comfortable in a country with a lower level of violence. By contrast, the rate in Canada is 1.9 for every 100,000 people. Perhaps staying local is not so bad after all.

However, that rate too is on the rise. Statistics Canada reported a 7% increase over the 2019 rate of 1.8. Even as deadly shootings in Toronto surpassed last year’s gun-related fatalities, the city’s homicide rate (1.6) in 2020 was less than the national rate and well below that of Thunder Bay’s, at 6.3.

Yet, those rates pale in comparison to other cities around the world. According to Statista, Los Cabos, Mexico is the number one city to steer clear from, based on its 2020 murder rate of 111.3 victims per 100,000 inhabitants.

Typically, travellers think of the golden sandy beaches in Mexico as a sought-after haven, but recent shootouts among rival gang members at popular beach destinations have tourists opting for less risky retreats.

While it is not fair to discredit the unique charms of these destinations, several elements contribute to the homicide rates. These include socioeconomic factors like unemployment, poverty, political instability, social inequality and firearms possession.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, roughly half of all murders are committed with the use of guns and related to gangs, organized crime and the drug trade.

Looking ahead to 2022 may have us all ready to plan that next adventure abroad. Ultimately, preparing for that trip will have you doing more than just researching the risk of contracting Covid in the destination of your choice.

P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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