Our ongoing research has shown that when we talk about ‘passport power’, we are discussing more than simply the destinations a holder can travel to without acquiring a visa in advance,
LONDON – Asia’s dominance in the global travel landscape is unmissable, with Japan and Singapore holding a firm grip at the top of the Henley Passport Index going into the final quarter of 2019.
The two Asian countries each registered a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 190 out of a maximum 227, trumping the second-place trio of Finland, Germany and South Korea at 188.
The Henley Passport Index is calculated based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Denmark, Italy, and Luxembourg are in third place, with citizens of those countries now able to access 187 destinations worldwide without requiring a visa in advance.
With a score of 184, the United Kingdom and the United States remain in joint sixth place. It is the lowest position either country has held since 2010 and a significant drop from their top ranking in 2014.
At the bottom of the spectrum are Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, with visa-free/visa-on-arrival scores of just 29, 27, and 25, respectively.
“Our ongoing research has shown that when we talk about ‘passport power’, we are discussing more than simply the destinations a holder can travel to without acquiring a visa in advance,” said Dr Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept.
“Often, there is a strong correlation between visa freedom and other benefits such as business and investment freedom, independence of the judiciary, fiscal health, and property rights.”
Using historic data from the Henley Passport Index and the Index of Economic Freedom, political science researchers, Uğur Altundal of Syracuse University, and Ömer Zarpli of the University of Pittsburgh, found a strongly positive connection between visa freedom and a variety of indicators of economic freedom, such as foreign direct investment inflows, property rights, tax burden, and investment freedom.
Mr Altundal and Mr Zarpli observed that “countries that have higher visa scores also rank higher in economic freedom, especially in investment, financial, and business freedom”.
They pointed out that one good example of this positive correlation is Singapore, which ranks highest in nearly all economic indicators and holds the top spot on the Henley Passport Index.