Getting sick is probably the last thing on your mind when planning a holiday, but unfortunately chances are all of us have had at least one vacation ruined, or partially ruined, due to unforeseen health issues.
Forbes has carried out a thorough research to determine in which destinations tourists are most getting sick. The company cross referenced the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) Fit for Travel recommended vaccinations or boosters and malaria risk and the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list for avoiding local tap water with an analysis of about 2.4 million posts on popular travel forums containing words such as “salmonella”, “gastroenteritis”, “e-coli” and “food poisoning”.
While a tummy bug might not sound like much, if you have waited all year for a holiday which you then spend alone in a hotel room feeling awful, it can actually be devastating.Kevin Pratt, travel expert at Forbes Advisor
Each destination was then scored on its relative performance in each category using a minimum to maximum normalisation formula to create a Travel Bug Index Score on a scale of 0-100. The higher the score the more likely it is that tourists could fall ill.
2. Global destinations where tourists are most likely to get sick
2.1. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Scoring 90.4, a total of 13,463 of the travel forum posts about Punta Cana are related to holiday-sickness, almost 10% of the total posts about the destination. Besides the Hepatitis A and Tetanus shot which tourists are advised to get or renew before travelling to the Dominican Republic, an additional four are “to be considered”. Moreover, while low, there is a risk of contracting malaria and tap water should not be drunk.
2.2. Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
While there is no risk of malaria at Sharm El Sheikh, the resort still scored 83.5. According to the CDC, tap water should be avoided at all costs and the NHS advises shots for poliomyelitis and tetanus, with 4 more to be considered. Moreover, almost 11% of the travel forum posts on the destination are sickness related.
2.3. Sal, Cape Verde
With over 11% of the travel forum posts on the Sal Island being sickness related, the destination got a 70.6 Travel Bug Index Score. Similarly to the previous two, tap water should be avoided. The NHS advises hepatitis A and tetanus vaccines before travelling to Cape Verde, with an additional 3 to be considered. Moreover, while the risk of malaria is low, taking tablets before travelling is still recommended.
3. European destinations where tourists are most likely to get sick
3.1. Benidorm, Spain
With a score of 26.4, Benidorm ranked 17 worldwide and first in Europe. While tap water is considered safe to drink and there are no recommended vaccinations before travelling, a staggering 52,000 posts about the destination are sickness related, accounting for 4.5%.
3.2. London, UK
Ranking 21st worldwide and 2nd in Europe, London received a 21.7 score. Since tap water is safe to drink and the UK has strict food hygiene laws, only 2.74% of the over 150,000 travel forum posts mentioned people getting sick.
3.3. Sunny Beach, Bulgaria
Ranking 3rd in Europe and 22nd globally, Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach received a score of 21.5. While only 2.77% of the forum posts mention sickness, the CDC does not recommend drinking tap water and the NHS recommends a tetanus shot before travelling, with diphtheria and hepatitis A and B to be considered.