Passport holders with the greatest global access are currently the most restricted and reluctant to enjoy their travel freedom, according to the latest results from the Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive and official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Japan holds the number one spot on the index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their can access without a prior visa — with a record-high visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 193, while Singapore and South Korea come in joint-2nd place, with a score of 192.
But despite the record-breaking worldwide access afforded to citizens of these three nations over the index’s 17-year history, international passenger demand in the Asia-Pacific region has only reached 17% of pre-Covid levels, according to IATA’s latest statistics, having hovered below 10% for most of the past two years.
This figure is far behind the global trend where markets in Europe and North America have recovered to around 60% of pre-crisis travel mobility levels. Commenting in the Henley Global Mobility Report 2022 Q3, Dr Marie Owens Thomsen, Chief Economist at IATA, says passenger numbers should reach 83% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022: “By next year, many markets should see traffic reach or exceed pre-pandemic levels, while we expect this to be the case for the industry as a whole in 2024.”
EU member states dominate the remaining top 10 ten spots on the latest ranking, with Germany and Spain in joint-3rd place, with access to 190 destinations visa-free. Finland, Italy, and Luxembourg follow closely behind in joint-4th place with 189 destinations, and Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden share 5th place with their passport holders able to travel to 188 destinations worldwide without a visa.
Both the UK and US have dropped down a rank, to 6th and 7th place, respectively, and Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index, with its nationals only able to access 27 destinations worldwide visa-free. The global mobility gap between the world’s most and least powerful passports now sits at an unprecedented 166 destinations.