Our April travel safety forecast is unsurprisingly dominated by the Covid-19 outbreak. Governments have shut borders; airlines have cancelled flights; and the travel sector has all but ground to a halt in most parts of the world.
Given the unusual times we are now living in, we would be particularly grateful for your assistance right now.
Please register with our site and upload comments on locations that you know. Describe the safety environment, logistics, concerns or any other issues that you think might be relevant for another traveller.
It doesn’t matter where in the world you are. Even if things are calm, safe and orderly, or you are in a quiet or remote area, it is still useful for us to know.
We would particularly like to know what impact the Covid-19 outbreak is having in your surroundings.
The more everyone contributes, the more we will all benefit from one another’s insight.
Around the world
While China was initially the worst hit country, Italy and Spain have since experienced a higher death toll. Numerous other countries are increasingly struggling. We are particularly concerned about a surge in cases in the United States, as well as irresponsible leadership in Brazil.
It is possible that Russia is underreporting cases. There is also the harsh reality that social distancing will be near impossible in the many crowded and impoverished parts of the world. Places where people rely on an informal economy to survive day-to-day will be near-impossible to manage. These areas are also the least likely to have the medical care needed to deal with an outbreak.
In the immediate term, the spread of the virus will make travel a highly unpredictable affair. This will be compounded by uncoordinated government responses around the world.
A global recession has almost certainly already begun. This will severely interrupt travel. Expect more airlines, entertainment and accommodation companies going into receivership. Many people will lose their jobs.
Outside of China, it was other countries in Asia which first reported Covid-19 cases. However, the implementation of a range of measures appears to have contained the outbreak in several of these.
The measures included lockdowns and extensive restrictions on movements in some areas. China enforced particularly stringent rules in this regard. Many governments issued fines for non-compliance. Several countries also tracked individuals and shared information widely on existing cases.
These policies appear to have been effective. Governments are now lifitng restrictions in certain places. At the time of writing, Taiwan has still only reported two deaths so far.
Europe, on the other hand, is playing catch-up. Many governments implemented haphazard or insufficient measures. None – we repeat: NONE – of these governments contacted Taiwan to ask for advice, guidance or lessons learnt in the fight against the virus.
The economic impact will be huge.
The lockdowns are also a highly inefficient means of dealing with the outbreak. They will be effective, but at great cost. Taiwan did not impose a lockdown. Instead, it used a combination of many measures to tackle Covid-19. These included extensive testing and screenings, social distancing and regular public service announcements. The government also used widespread tracking of at-risk individuals, something seen as an invasion of privacy by some in the West.
However, when it transpires that thousands of people died because governments did not utilise tracking, attitudes are likely to change. Tracking technology and proactive, and indeed invasive approaches to containing the outbreak will likely become increasingly welcome in the West.
For the April travel safety forecast and beyond, we therefore expect the greater deployment of technology as a solution for any future outbreaks. Governments are likely to roll out more public safety apps, as well as tracking services. Countries in the Asia-Pacific region have plenty of examples for Western developers to benchmark.
The pandemic is disrupting all forms of public life, including elections.
Others are still scheduled to take place in South Korea and Syria. Nonetheless, the fast-moving nature of conditions on the ground could interrupt these events too. Please see the individual reports for further details on each of these countries or select a country by logging in to Starling Safety and choosing from the dropdown menu.
Given that large gatherings bring a high risk of spreading the virus, many are set to be altered or even cancelled completely. Weddings and funerals are already facing massive disruption.
Celebrations surrounding Passover (8th -16th April), Easter (9-13th April) and Orthodox Easter (17th-20th April) are likely to be highly muted.
Normally crowded congregations will be replaced by online, television and radio sermons.
Sri Lankan and Bengali celebrations of the new year, due to take place around the 13th and 14th April will also be quiet.
Sri Lanka in particular will likely face a sombre Easter. It has been a year since radical Islamist terrorists targeted churches in the country during Easter celebrations.
As mentioned above, the financial ramifications of this outbreak will be extensive. Even if the virus was now contained, the economic impact could be felt for years. Recession is a huge killer of travel and the industry will be particularly badly hit in 2020.
Some individuals may throw themselves back into travel once the outbreak is over. Weeks and months of isolation and restrictions could prompt those who can afford it to seek holidays or even relocate. Quarantine may prompt many to reflect on the circumstances of where they live and might choose to change. This could include more holidays, remote working from different destinations or even a complete relocation.
However, many are also likely to be preoccupied with the immediate economic ramifications and potential risk to livelihoods, company survival and industrial turmoil.
For this month’s travel safety forecast, the weather almost feels like a moot point.
If over a quarter of the world’s population is stuck at home, the weather outside seems irrelevant. Nonetheless, a reduction in disruptive or severe weather will at least lower the number of distractions that local authorities are currently having to deal with.
We would normally say that the month of April marks the end of the skiing season in most northern hemisphere winter resorts, such as the Alps. However, skiing has already been heavily interrupted by the virus.
The temperature will start to rise in places such as the Mediterranean. However, the tourist beaches, hotels, bars and restaurants will remain empty.
Furthermore, the rise in temperatures will not stop the spread of Covid-19 as some hoped it would. Unlike the flu virus, Covid-19 appears quite happy spreading in all manner of temperatures and climate types.
This month also marks the end of rainy and tropical cyclone seasons in different parts of the world. This will reduce the burden on the emergency services in these areas, allowing them to focus more fully on Covid-19.
Seasonal weather changes
The following countries and territories are worthy of mention in our April travel safety forecast because of notable weather changes they normally experience at this time of year:
American Samoa: the rainy season normally ends this month.
Angola: the rainy season normally ends this month.
Bolivia: the rainy season in the northeast of the country normally ends this month.
Christmas Island: the rainy season normally ends this month.
DRC: the rainy season begins in areas north of the equator this month, normally lasting until October.
Fiji: cyclones are relatively infrequent in Fiji but the higher-risk period normally ends this month.
The Middle East begins to heat up
Jordan: after several months of cooling rain, the west of the country now begins to enter the hotter, drier summer months.
Kenya: the country usually experiences a rainy period from now until May.
Kiribati: while typhoons can occur at any time here, the high-risk period normally ends this month.
Madagascar: the cyclone season normally ends this month.
Malaysia: the southwest monsoon normally begins this month and lasts until October.
Mauritania: the dry, aggravating Sirocco winds usually end this month.
Mozambique: the cyclone season normally ends this month.
Reunion: the rainy season normally ends this month.
Rwanda: the rainy season normally ends this month.
Samoa: the rainy season normally ends this month.
Timor-Leste: the rainy season normally ends this month.
Tonga: while cyclones can occur at any time here, the higher-risk period normally ends this month.
Wallis and Futuna: the rainy season normally ends this month.
Zambia: the rainy season normally ends this month.
Key Dates for the April travel safety forecast
The following dates are significant this month:
Cyprus: Cyprus National Day
Argentina: Veterans Day
Senegal: Independence Day
Rwanda: Genocide Against the Tutsi Memorial Day
Georgia: Day of National Unity
Philippines: Bataan Day
Tunisia: Martyrs’ Day
Unsteady voting in Syria
Syria: People’s Council election
Haiti: Pan-American Day
Honduras: Pan-American Day
South Korea: National Assembly elections
Zimbabwe: Independence Day
Swaziland: King Mswati III’s Birthday
Venezuela: Declaration of Independence Day
Brazil: Tiradentes Day
Cancelled polling in Russia
Russia: CANCELLED constitutional referendum
Turkey: National Sovereignty and Children’s Day
Armenia: Genocide Memorial Day
Australia: ANZAC Day
New Zealand: ANZAC Day
Egypt: Sinai Liberation Day
Italy: Liberation Day
Portugal: Freedom Day
Tanzania: Union Day
Slovenia: Resistance Day
South Africa: Freedom Day
Vietnam: Reunification Day
Thank you for staying up to date with our April travel safety forecast.
We wish you all the best amid the Covid-19 outbreak!