All this has had an impact on the travel industries of various countries, and on the status of passports that people hold.
The Henley Passport Index 2021 has just introduced the passport ranking of countries, including a list of the most powerful passports in the world. Using the exclusive data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA), the report studied 199 passports and 227 tourist places.
The report periodically updates the list of the most travel-friendly passports in the world.
This year, it is the Asia-Pacific (APAC) passports which are the most powerful in the world. The result was derived using the mobility score of passports that decides the number of countries a passport holder can travel visa-free or get a visa on arrival.
These are the countries that made it to the category of the most powerful passports in the world:
Placed at the number one for the fourth year now is the Japanese passport. The residents of the country are permitted visa-free and visa-on-arrival entry to 191 countries in the world.
Second on the list is Singapore, the country with the largest port in South-East Asia. The citizens of this island can travel to 190 countries without any visa restrictions.
South Korea and Germany
Sharing the third spot are two geographically and culturally distant countries, South Korea and Germany. Citizens of both these countries can avail of visa-free access to 189 countries.
Italy, Finland, Spain, and Luxembourg
Making it to the fourth place on the list of countries with the most powerful passports are four European countries — Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg — that enjoy visa-free access to 188 countries in the world.
Denmark and Austria
Located in Northern Europe and Central Europe respectively, the residents of these European countries receive visa-free and visa-on-arrival permissions to a total of 187 countries.
Sweden, France, Portugal, Netherlands, and Ireland
Standing united on the sixth position are five countries — Sweden, France, Portugal, Netherlands, and Ireland. Their passports are eligible for both visa-free and visa-on-arrival entry to 186 countries.
Switzerland, USA, UK, Norway, Belgium, and New Zealand
With COVID-19 cases rising sharply in the USA and UK, the two nations that earlier stood at the top now are positioned seventh on Henley’s list. According to experts, the APAC region will continue ruling the roost as it enters the first recovery phase. Going by the precise numbers, both US and UK passport holders are only allowed visa-free entry to around 70 countries in the world whereas other countries in the position — Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, and New Zealand — have access to 185 countries.
The study adds Greece, Malta, the Czech Republic and Australia to the eighth place with their passports receiving entry to 184 nations. Followed by Canadian passports in the ninth place (183 countries) and Hungarian passports in the tenth position (181 countries).
However, some countries such as North Korea, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan remained at the bottom of the visa-free access to fewer than 40 countries.
Unfortunately, India doesn't fare very well, ranking 85th with a visa-free score of 58
Neighbours Pakistan (107) and Nepal (104) continue to be in the 'worst passports to hold' category. The former has a visa-free score of 32 countries and Nepal has a score of 38 destinations.
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of leading residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, says the rankings are an opportunity to reflect on the unprecedented upheavals that happened in 2020. "Just a year ago all indications were that the rates of global mobility would continue to rise, that travel freedom would increase, and holders of powerful passports would enjoy more access than ever before," the chairman said as quoted by the statement. "The global lockdown negated these glowing projections, and as restrictions begin to lift, the results from the latest index are a reminder of what passport power really means in a world upended by the pandemic," Kaelin added.