Safety is an key consideration for travellers. It affects our holiday plans, the countries we consider visiting and - all importantly - our travel insurance.
But are we booking holidays in bad faith? According to the Global Peace Index (GPI) there are many long-maligned destinations that don't deserve bad reputations. Similarly some favourite holiday destinations have recently become a less safe bet.
The GPI is an annual review that measures the general 'peacefulness' of countries. It is compiled using research from the University of Otago's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and a data-driven approach to rank over 160 destinations on social safety and security.
Incarceration rates, homicides, internal conflict and perceptions of criminality are not normally the defining criteria of a holiday destination - but they are among the 23 data points that the GPI has been using to compile their yearly report since 2008.
It's no surprise that since 2021 global peacefulness has slid 0.3 per cent, with pandemics and otherworldly woes affecting the safety and wellbeing of destinations.
Within this ranking there are islands of peace that have remained at the top of the index.
Ranking countries on a scale of 1 "safest" to 5 "least safe", the top space hasn't changed since the records began but New Zealand is rising in the ranks.
Despite travel turmoil and the pandemic disruption, New Zealand has climbed into second place on the list with a score of 1.253.
"New Zealand remains the most peaceful country in the region and the second most peaceful country overall in the 2022 GPI," said the report, although this is a fall in overall score since 2018. The country drops to 16th on the list for societal safety.
For those planning holidays to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, there is good news, with those countries among those seeing the most improvement to their 'peacefulness' score.
The biggest climbers were in North Africa and the Philippines. This was despite major disruptions, including the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
"Predictably, the largest regional deterioration in peacefulness was Russia and Eurasia, followed by North America," said the summary.
The executive report said that improvements were slow and incremental compared to the biggest falls, which were harder to predict, "highlighting that countries tend to deteriorate much faster than they improve."
Europe is the most peaceful region in the world, where seven of the ten countries most peaceful countries are located.
Here are the 10 safest countries to visit:
The ten safest countries in the world
10. Japan: 1.336
In spite of being slow to reopen its borders to the world Japan's peaceful pandemic has seen it return to the top 10 for the first time since 2018. Leapfrogging both Canada and Switzerland, Japan has improved its lot despite the fall in regional security in the Korean sea. It's a serene collection of islands which travellers can't wait to get back to.
9. Singapore: 1.326
Singapore is another new entry to the top 10. Singapore has secured its place as a gateway for commerce and transport into South Asia. Positive sentiment one security and political stability has helped the country climb, while comparable hubs have stagnated following the pandemic. In spite of this the country scored shockingly with regards to militarisation, as one of the largest weapons exporters.
8. Czech Republic Score: 1.318
The Czech Republic scores exceedingly well, especially on petty crime. Despite having a large tourism industry, crimes like pick-pocketing are not an issue in urban centres like Prague.
The Czech republic has gained places despite it's score remaining stable.
7. Slovenia Score: 1.316
At the end of the Alps, Slovenia first found its way into the top ten in 2020, with the low cost of living, crime and risk of violence rates. Its happy peaceful disposition has served it well, as Slovenia has emerged on the tourism radar with its castles and lakes offering plenty for international visitors.
6. Portugal Score: 1.301
Since emerging from a dictatorship in 1974, Portugal has emerged as a beacon of political stability in Europe, scoring highly for contentment. Despite economic wobbles during the Eurozone financial crisis (falling to 18th most peaceful in 2014) the Mediterranean nation has stabilised and become a top destination for tourists and more than a few retirees from Eurozone countries.
5. Austria Score: 1.3
Austria remains in the top ten despite a large fall in rankings in 2021. Domestic terror and recent incidents have dragged down Vienna in the safety list, but good relations with neighbours East and West have helped Austria regain places.
4. Denmark Score: 1.296
Pragmatism, a well functioning government and economic equality are the building blocks for peace in the country that gave us Lego. Denmark misses out narrowly from a top 3 spot, falling 0.04 points. It's also one of the few countries in the study where women are more satisfied with standards of living and feel safer than men.
3. Ireland Score: 1.288
Ireland jumped five places this year, continuing its upwards trajectory. A happy, welcoming attitude and prospering economy helped the country ride out pandemic blips. It's a full 0.3 points clear of its closest neighbours in the UK and continental Europe.
2. New Zealand Score: 1.269
In spite of some disruption to social peace and an increase in military spending, New Zealand remains one of the most peaceful places on the planet. The extremely low index of threat of international conflict and (comparatively) peaceful pandemic response has kept New Zealand in the top two, just behind the all-time most peaceful nation…
1. Iceland Score: 1.107
"Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008," read the report which has given the North Atlantic the crown of the world's safest country since records began. Virtually zero spending on defence and international conflict has meant it is a country with few enemies. Although it has seen disruption from a boom-and-bust tourism economy and pandemic disruption, the population of just 366,500 might be the smallest, safest and most welcoming island in the world.