With Russia’s war against Ukraine, breaking all international agreements and decimating a population in a situation not experienced since World War II, is it safe to travel to Europe? What do the experts say?
Except for the travel restrictions that European countries (as well as Canada and the United States) placed on Russia, banning flights from Russian territory, and the reciprocal attitude taken by Vladimir Putin’s government, and the suspension of operations in Ukraine, experts assure that there is no need to cancel a trip to a large part of the continent.
International SOS, a travel and medical security company, does not advise its clients to postpone travel to European countries other than Ukraine. The company also said that “Russia is highly unlikely to use its military forces against other European nations,” due to mutual defense pacts between European Union and NATO members, although many also did not think Putin would act as he did against Ukraine.
Always have an emergency plan anytime you travel to a city that’s foreign to you.Tim Hentschel, co-founder and CEO of HotelPlanner
Travelers should feel safe going to most of Europe outside of the conflict area, although, as always, they should be mindful of coronavirus entry requirements wherever they are headed.
“If war spreads across Eastern Europe or into one inch of NATO soil, you should have a plan to evacuate or relocate to a safer area,” Tim Hentschel, co-founder and CEO of HotelPlanner, a service provider for the global hotel sales market, told CNN.
The high number of Ukrainian refugees arriving in bordering countries such as Poland, Romania, Moldova and Slovakia should also be taken into account. Possibly travelers will not have a direct impact, but they can get involved in the flow of refugees or organizations supporting the situation of people who had to escape from Ukraine. Travelers would also need to be on the lookout for anti-Russian protest demonstrations taking place in different European capitals.
CNN reports that according to a survey conducted by MMGY Travel Intelligence, the research division of marketing research firm MMGY Global, the war in Ukraine is now twice as likely to impact Americans’ travel plans to Europe as the coronavirus pandemic. Of the 350 adult US travelers with upcoming plans to visit Europe who were surveyed, 62% said the invasion is a factor for planning their trips, compared with 31% who cited Covid-19 health and safety concerns. In addition, 47% said they’re taking a “wait and see” approach on how the situation evolves before making plans to visit Europe this year.
As published in The Washington Post, Michael O’Rourke, CEO of Advanced Operational Concepts, a global security consultancy for travel risk assessment and management, also agreed that he sees no need to cancel travel plans to other European Union or NATO member countries. In addition to avoiding Russia and Ukraine, O’Rourke advised travelers to be cautious in former Soviet Republic countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Moldova.
“You don’t need to have this sort of heightened state of anxiety, which is the one thing that I’m seeing the most right now,” said Greg Pearson, CEO and founder of Care & Assistance Plus, to CNN. ”People are maybe prematurely canceling their plans, and I don’t think we’re there yet. It’s anybody’s best guess as to what’s going to happen next, but as it relates to travel to western Europe, I think you can travel safely.”