How COVID-19 Transformed Liberians Travel Trends￼
Historically, Liberians have shared a deeply rooted bond with the United States of America. Apart from the shared political history, this connection extends to the sectors of education abroad, economic investments, immigration, and leisure travel. A direct result of this shared bond is the long-standing position of America as the first option for Liberians looking to holiday outside of the country. Although, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Liberians have seen a complete transformation to their leisure travel decisions.
An unintended global consequence of the COVID-19 virus is the toll it has taken on the travel industry. From early 2020 to mid 2021, many countries around the world carried out extreme lockdown regulations. These regulations were implemented in a targeted effort to curtail the virus. Among those countries was the U.S, which halted issuing its visitation visas around the world. This halt, now lifted, resulted in a 2-years long waitlist on applications from prospective Liberian travelers. Due to this forced lockdown on Liberians wishing to travel, they began to seek available opportunities outside of the U.S.
For those travelers living in Liberia without access to a U.S passport, COVID-19 pushed them to consider destinations with easy visa access to Liberians. As the trend shifted from the U.S, countries in Africa, Europe, the UAE, and the Caribbean Islands are quickly growing in visitations from Liberian tourists.
Liberians Travel Trends
Travel Within Africa
In Africa, Liberians enjoy visa-free entry to all countries in the ECOWAS region. At the top of that list where Liberians travel to most is Accra, Ghana. With its bustling economy, filled with luxurious tourist experiences, Accra is an African metropolitan oasis. The city boasts of museums, immersive cultural experiences, an active nightlife scene, and a taste for delicious dining. Besides Ghana though, other countries which are seeing more Liberian visitors are Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania. Admittedly, visiting other continents offers an indisputable learning opportunity. In a case for Africa, though, avid tourists can attest that the continent offers a conducive experience unlike any other.
Liberians Travel in the Middle East
The country which has seen an unprecedented rise in Liberian tourists is Dubai. In recent years, more Liberians are choosing a vacation to the Arabian country due to the luxurious lifestyle it offers. This travel trend was further solidified when Liberia improved its bi-lateral relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This strengthened relationship afforded Liberians visa-free entry into the UAE, which grants them access to Dubai. Part of the luxurious lifestyle Dubai offers is the unmatched shopping experience. Because of this, more Liberian business owners are also visiting the country, along with tourists.
Liberians Travel in Europe
Historically, Europe has not been a top destination for Liberians due to very strict visa requirements. At the same time, America has been the first option for Liberian tourists visiting the west. With the short-lived presence of Air France and KLM in Liberia, more Liberians exploited the opportunity and began traveling to European countries. At the top on the list of those countries is Great Britain, which is now seeing more Liberian students studying at universities in the UK, and musicians touring London.
Other countries Liberians are traveling to in Europe include France, Greece, Portugal, Italy, among others. While visa access to these countries are much more accessible to Liberians with a U.S passport or residency, Liberian passport holders can still apply for a Schengen visa, which grants entry to all territories in the European Schengen region. If you are interested in knowing the visa requirements for visiting Europe, you can find them here.
Liberians Travel in the Caribbean Islands
Popular destinations in the Caribbean Islands like Jamaica, for example, tend to see more Liberian visitors who are based in the U.S. Although, it is worth noting that there are some islands which offer visa-free entry to Liberian passport holders, like Barbados, for example. Because Liberia is far removed geographically from the Caribbean, not many travelers from the country visit the Islands. However, when traveling to the Caribbean, Liberian travelers traveling from Liberia will get to transit through the U.S as they head to their final destinations.
Another country which has hosted many U.S based Liberians since the COVID-19 pandemic is Mexico. Although it isn’t in the Caribbean Islands, Mexico offers a similar tropical luxury that many travelers around the world are rushing to experience. As with countries in the Caribbean Islands, Liberian travelers do not need a U.S visa to travel to Mexico. Likewise, it is very important to note that all countries around the world have their own visa requirements, and if you wish to visit, you can simply search them up and apply.
The Liberian wealthy and middle class are a rather small group of people with limited visa-free mobility. Nonetheless, their wanderlust for the world does not reflect this limitation. Moving from a long history of travel to the U.S was not a predictable trend. However, COVID-19 was the push Liberian travelers needed to transform and expand their horizons.
The increase in tourism from Liberian nationals is on trend to influence the country’s bilateral relations around the world. In the meantime, it should be noted that there is a vast world waiting to be explored. There are many countries granting visa-free entry to Liberians. Likewise, there are countries which grant visa-on-arrival, as well as countries that grant electronic visas to Liberian passport holders. Unlike what Liberians have historically believed, there are vast travel opportunities for travel outside of America, and now is the perfect time for their exploration.