The Greek passport has moved up one place, ranking seventh on the Henley Passport Index 2021, offering its holders visa-free access to 185 countries.
The Henley Passport Index compares the visa-free access of 199 different passports to 227 travel destinations.
The Greek passport previously held the eighth spot on the Henley Index in April 2021 and in July.
Japan firmly holds onto the number one spot on the index, sharing its place with Singapore due to their visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192.
Widest ever gap in travel freedom
Based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the index shows that countries in the global north with high-ranking passports have enforced some of the most stringent inbound Covid-19-related travel restrictions, while many countries with lower-ranking passports have relaxed their borders without seeing this openness reciprocated.
This has created an ever-widening gap in travel freedom even for fully vaccinated travelers from countries at the lower end of the passport power ranking who remain locked out of most of the world.
Unique research and expert analysis commissioned by Henley & Partners indicates that this gap is likely to increase, as pandemic-related restrictions become entrenched and amplify the already significant global mobility divide between advanced and developing economies.
Japan, which tops the index, bars almost all foreign nationals from entry. Germany, which sits alongside South Korea in joint-second place with a visa-free/visa-on arrival score of 190, currently restricts nearly 100 countries from entry.
Recent adjustments to the Covid-ban policies of the UK and the US, which share seventh place on the index with a visa-free score of 185, have done little to alter what experts perceive to be growing inequalities when it comes to travel freedom and access.
At the lower end of the index, Egypt, ranked 97th, currently has no travel restrictions in place, yet its citizens can access just 51 destinations around the world without acquiring a visa in advance.
Similarly, Kenya, which ranks 77th, has no travel bans in place, yet its passport holders are able to access just 72 destinations visa-free.
EU, UK, US policies present obstacles on road to normality
As advanced economies contemplate a return to “business as usual”, experts note that many challenges lie ahead. According to Hannah White, Deputy Director of the Institute for Government, a leading London think tank, restrictions to international movement look certain to continue to affect travelers to and from the UK well into 2022.
“The direction of travel has been towards greater freedoms, but ongoing requirements for expensive tests and quarantine for those vaccinated outside the UK, and the absence of an approved international vaccination certification scheme, continue to rule out visits for many international travelers, limit short-term international travel for UK residents, and potentially cause issues for UK residents vaccinated in non-approved countries,” she said.
Convoluted and ever-changing travel restrictions are also causing setbacks across the Atlantic, says Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research at NewCities.
Lindsay notes that while the US recently lifted restrictions for travelers from the EU, the bloc has voted to remove America from its ‘safe list’ of countries.
“The predicted Q4 return to normalcy now offers more questions than answers. The run-up to year end promises to be a race between vaccinations and variants, with the pandemic’s eventual end hanging in the balance,” he added.
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