Although the number of destinations people can travel to is increasing, crossing borders continues to be significantly obstructed, according to the latest results found in the Henley Passport Index. Between January-March 2021, international mobility had been restored to only 12 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the same period in 2019, the data revealed.
The results shows that while there is cause for optimism, it must be tempered with reality. The gulf between theoretical and actual travel access offered remains significant.
While the dominance of European passports in the Top Ten remains, 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 continues to share joint-3rd place with Germany, each with a score of 191.
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 with a theoretical visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 193.
When compared to the actual travel access currently available even to the holders of top-scoring passports, the picture looks very different: holders of Japanese passports have access to fewer than 80 destinations (equivalent to the passport power of Saudi Arabia, which sits in 71st place in the ranking) while holders of Singaporean passports can access fewer than 75 destinations (equivalent to the passport power of Kazakhstan, which sits in 74th place).
With historical data spanning 16 years, the Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. It is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).