The Strategist

Henley & Partners pubilshes new world passports ranking: "It's useless in COVID-19 era"

01/07/2021 - 03:19

The consulting company Henley & Partners has been publishing the World Passport Index for more than 15 years, together with the International Air Transport Association. But for the first time, the ranking itself is of little importance. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in most visa-free agreements not working.

According to the new version of the passport index, Japan is still the world leader in the number of countries available to citizens for visa-free visits. Compared to the last year, the top three of the index remained unchanged: Japan (191 visa-free destinations), Singapore (190), as well as South Korea and Germany (189 each).

New Zealand (7th place, 185 destinations) and Australia (8; 184) are also in the top 10 of the index.

However, all these numbers do not matter much in the era of the pandemic, when the borders of most countries are still locked down. The study points out that the advantage will also be on the side of Asian countries, which were among the first to open their borders. 

The same can hardly be expected in the near future from the United States or Great Britain, where the authorities have not yet managed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. On paper, both countries rank seventh in the index with 185 visa-free agreements for their citizens. In practice, however, Americans can visit less than 75 destinations without a visa, and citizens of the UK - less than 70.

As for the tourism industry, it will surely want to forget last year. Airlines, hotels and travel firms have missed 2020. Also during the year there were no significant agreements on visa-free travel. The only bright exception was the agreement between Israel and the UAE, against the background of the general normalization of relations between the Israeli state and the Arab countries.