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July 6, 2021

Pandemic Continues to Erode Strength of Premium Passports

Passports, USA, UK, India, Japan

Comparison: Henley Passport Index 2021 Q3 visa-free scores with no travel restrictions vs. visa-free scores taking Covid-19 travel restrictions into account.

LONDON, July 6, 2021 — The latest results from the Henley Passport Index show that while there is cause for optimism, the reality is that cross-border travel remains restrained. Although there was some progress between January and March 2021, international mobility is just 12% pre-pandemic. Moreover, the gulf between theoretical and actual travel access remains significant.

Henley Passport Index is the actual ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

With the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics just weeks away, and the country in a “quasi” state of emergency, Japan nonetheless retains its hold on the number one spot on the Henley Passport Index with a theoretical visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 193. The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

While the dominance of European passports in the Top Ten has been there for most of the index’s 16-year history, the pre-eminence of three Asian states — Japan, Singapore, and South Korea — has become the new normal. Singapore remains in 2nd place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192, and South Korea shares a joint-3rd home with Germany, each with a score of 191.

However, compared to the actual travel access currently available even to the holders of top-scoring passports, the picture looks very different. For example, holders of Japanese passports have access to fewer than 80 destinations (equivalent to the passport power of Saudi Arabia, which sits way down in 71st place on the ranking). In comparison, holders of Singaporean passports can access fewer than 75 destinations (equivalent to Kazakhstan, which sits in 74th place).

• Plummeting UK and US passport power

There is a similarly gloomy outlook even in countries with highly successful Covid-19 vaccine rollouts. The UK and the US currently share a joint-7th place on the index, following a steady decline since they jointly held the top spot in 2014. Their passport holders were theoretically able to access 187 destinations worldwide.

Under current travel bans, however, UK passport holders have suffered a dramatic drop of over 70% in their travel freedom, currently accessing fewer than 60 destinations globally — a passport power equivalent to Uzbekistan on the index. Likewise, US passport holders have seen a 67% decrease in their global mobility, with access to just 61 destinations worldwide — a passport power equivalent to Rwanda.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners, says the gap in travel freedom is now at its widest since the index began in 2006. For example, Japanese passport holders can access 167 more destinations than citizens of Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the index with visa-free access to just 26 countries. “Increasing isolationism and deglobalization will have profound consequences. That includes further damage to the world’s economy, a significant reduction in global mobility, and restrictions on people’s freedom.”

IATA’s Director-General, Willie Walsh, warns that the governments should not restrict international travel to those who have access to vaccination. “The freedom to travel is important. However, we need a secure system to efficiently integrate the checking of vaccines or testing certificates into the travel process. The IATA Travel Pass enables travelers to share their health credentials with governments and airlines securely.”

Exclusive research commissioned by Henley & Partners and published in its latest Q3 Global Mobility Report indicates that since the world administrations declared the pandemic, the EU has seen a drop in tourism of nearly 90%. The UK has had a 73% decline in tourist numbers. The US has experienced a 69% decrease in international visitors. And with Australia and New Zealand slamming their doors shut early in the pandemic, they received only 1% of their March 2019 visitors in March this year.

Robert Maciejewski, CEO of SIP Medical Family Office in Switzerland, says, “A legal obligation to obtain a Covid passport is unlikely in most democratic countries. Yet, not having one will probably result in de facto restrictions of your freedom, whether it comes to travel or daily activities.”

Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, says, “ensuring future access to multiple residence options or having dual citizenship has become even more essential for entrepreneurs and investors and their families. It mitigates volatility and reduces their exposure to risk at national, regional, and global levels.”

Source: Henley & Partners

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 1:49 PM | Link to this Post

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