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January 11, 2023 / Riskline Newsroom

Travel Outlook: What to expect when travelling this January

While a variety of COVID-19 variants indicate prolonged infection level surges worldwide, global travel beginning in 2023 will continue to reach and even surpass pre-pandemic levels. A rebound in business travel and an increase in travel insurance popularity as entry restrictions are eased will further boost travel variety as the industry enters the new year.

By Catherine Soltero and Claudia Gualdi

A revival of business travel and the impact of remote work schemes

2023 is expected to jumpstart a new chapter of expanded business travel. Not only have COVID-19 restrictions been widely eased, allowing for a comeback in the number of business travellers taking flights on a more regular basis, but the pandemic triggered a major shift for businesses in that many workers moved to a hybrid or remote scheme.

As such, many business travellers are opting to extend their trips for leisure purposes–also called “bleisure travel”–and combinations of professional and personal trips present a newfound opportunity for both airlines and the hospitality industry.

Workers travelling for business are no longer confined to specific travel days with fast turnaround requirements, which in turn prolongs the busier travel seasons, particularly during the winter holidays. At the same time, work flexibility motivates travellers to take more trips than they may have had before the pandemic, so overall travel volume is not sacrificed at the expense of work flexibility, and in fact is even enhanced.

As for specific policies and incentives aimed at stimulating extended business travel bookings, there are both programs that officials are continuing into 2023 as well as new ones set to be introduced.

Spain recently announced the January launch of the digital nomad visa, allowing workers who make at least 80 percent of their income from a non-Spanish company to remain in the country for up to one year. Accordingly, full-time remote workers and business travellers can take advantage of this initiative.

Similar programs in Ecuador and Indonesia are also set to begin in early 2023, and existing policies in Curação, Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Colombia, Croatia, Costa Rica and Grenada, among others, will continue.

An overview of travel insurance and its renewed popularity

The element of travel uncertainty brought on by the pandemic undoubtedly raised awareness on travel insurance, and certain countries even began to require proof of travel insurance for all non-resident travellers.

As those requirements are progressively lifted, however, the popularity of travel insurance remains high, and COVID-19 is only one of several concerns that travellers want addressed in their policies, especially as international trips begin to return to pre-pandemic levels.

In fact, 90 percent of US travellers who purchased travel insurance during the week of 11-17 December 2022 did so for overseas bookings. Travellers’ primary interest in purchasing a policy continues to be related to COVID-19.

However, trip cancellation and delays, emergency medical treatment and medical evacuations are also frequently sought after in terms of coverage type. This comes as a result of the rapid growth in overall travel after nearly two years of decline, whereby understaffing and strikes have caused multiple lags in service.

Wage negotiations continue to cause disruptions across Europe, as seen in strikes by Air France cabin crew that are scheduled to continue through 2 January, while Ryanair Spain strikes are likely to affect travellers departing from airports in Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga through 7 January as part of multi-union action that began in July 2022; rail travel is additionally at risk of being interrupted, especially in the United Kingdom where strikes are set to take place during the majority of the month.

Winter season COVID-19 variants and the renewal of restrictions

Similar to last year, travel throughout at least mid-February 2023 will remain disrupted in several destinations, particularly with China re-emerging from three years of a “Zero-COVID” policy and recording a new surge of cases nationwide, which has prompted health authorities in several countries to reintroduce entry requirements for arrivals from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

After the Chinese government criticized such measures and threatened countermeasures, on 10 January authorities officially suspended until further notice the issuance of short-stay visas to South Korean and Japanese nationals for business, tourism and transit purposes.



In the same vein, health checks at ports of entry as well as random testing procedures at airports are being reinstated in an effort to detect symptomatic travellers who then may be required to transfer to government-approved facilities or follow isolation protocols.

On the other hand, despite reported surges in the prevalent BF.7 Omicron subvariant, travel to China will be easier compared to past months, since inbound travellers will no longer be required to undergo upon-arrival testing and self-isolation from 8 January.

The unpredictable nature of COVID-19 variants and corresponding preventative measures means that travellers should plan for potential changes in their itineraries, particularly when arriving to or departing from countries currently experiencing higher infection levels.

About Riskline
Riskline is a world-class travel risk intelligence company. We provide country and city risk assessments and real-time alert messaging to fulfil Duty of Care requirements before and during travel. Trusted by global travel management companies, small businesses and everyone in between, Riskline has been in operation since 2007 and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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