With the closure of borders, global mobility fell, leading to an all time low in the World Openness Score (WOS).
The Passport Index 2021 tracked the WOS between December 31, 2019 and May 31, 2020, taking this as the period of COVID-19 pandemic. (Representational image: Getty via IE)
Passport Index 2021: The coronavirus pandemic saw the entire global travel industry coming to a staggering halt for at least three months, when countries imposed lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. With the closure of borders, global mobility fell, leading to an all time low in the World Openness Score (WOS), or the measure to assess the openness of the world based on visa-free travel agreements, according to the Arton Capital Passport Index 2021. It also shook up the power of passports of individual countries massively. However, this year, Germany has topped the list of countries in terms of powerful passports, having a mobility score of 134. Of these, citizens holding German passports are able to visit 99 countries without requiring a visa and 35 countries where they would need a visa on arrival. German citizens require visas to visit 64 countries.
Sweden, Finland and Spain all ranked second, with a mobility score of 133. While all the passport holders of all the three countries require visas for 65 countries, the Swedish passport holders can go to 99 countries without requiring a visa, and to 34 countries on a visa-on-arrival arrangement. On the other hand, holders of a Finnish passport do not require visas to visit 98 countries and can go to 35 countries on a visa-on-arrival. Passport holders of Spain can visit 36 countries on a visa-on-arrival basis, while they do not require a visa for 97 countries.
Passports of Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and New Zealand ranked at the third place, with all the countries having a mobility score of 132, requiring a visa for 66 countries. For the fourth place, as many as nine countries are ranked together with a mobility score of 131 – Netherlands, France, Portugal, Austria, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Japan and South Korea have a mobility score of 130, ranking at the fifth place.
Passport Index 2021: India’s passport strength
The index placed India at the 61st position, along with Philippines, Bhutan, Benin, Gabon, and Algeria, with all the six countries having a mobility score of 52. Holders of the Indian passport have visa-free access to 18 countries, and require a visa on arrival for 34 countries. On the other hand, Indian passport holders require a visa to visit 146 countries, and have a world reach of 26%.
As compared to last year’s ranking, the mobility score of India remained the same. However, during the period of COVID-19, India had a mobility score of 47. According to historical data of India’s mobility score calculated by the index, which came into existence in 2015, the mobility score of India peaked in 2019 to reach a score of 71, and it was at its lowest in 2016 with a score of 46. Not counting the COVID-19 mobility score, the mobility score in 2020 and 2021 marks the third lowest one for India, with the second lowest score being 48 in 2015.
Arton Capital Passport Index 2021: Most powerful passports during COVID-19
The Passport Index 2021 tracked the WOS between December 31, 2019 and May 31, 2020, taking this as the period of COVID-19 pandemic to account for the severe travel restrictions put in place by most of the countries. After May, the restrictions eased in most of the countries.
The Index, in its report, noted that before the pandemic, the World Openness Score was at its highest at 21,360. This quickly plummeted to 12,994, witnessing a drop of 65% to reach its all-time-low position. The report stated that during the pandemic, a whopping 67% of the world was closed for travel.
The Index also calculated the mobility scores of the countries during the pandemic, and Belgium came out to be the most powerful passport with the highest mobility score in the world at 112. Even this, however, was a drop of 67 points for the country from the previous ranking. On the other hand, Iraq was the country with the weakest passport, having the lowest global mobility score of 27. During the pandemic, the average mobility score of the countries was 65.
After Belgium, the second most powerful passport was that of Finland, followed by Austria, Luxembourg, Spain, Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, Sweden and Netherlands.
On the other hand, several countries saw a severe decline in their mobility score due to the pandemic. This loss was the highest for South Korea, which witnessed a decline of 93 points in its mobility score, followed by Canada with a loss of 92 points. Other countries which faced the biggest losses in their mobility scores were Japan at the third place and Singapore at the fourth position, followed by the US, the UAE, Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Argentina.