As nations across the world have imposed travel restrictions to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19), global citizenship and residence advisory firm, Henley & Partners, has released its quarterly ranking of the world's passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without requiring a visa in advance.
According to the Henley Passport Index (HPI) for the second quarter of 2020, the Nigerian passport has dropped 21 places over the past decade to 97th position on the ranking of global passport strength. In a statement sent to Financial Nigeria on Tuesday, the London-based firm said Nigeria has dropped the most on the ranking in the period under review. The report gives Nigeria a travel freedom score of 46 destinations.
Japan retains its top spot on the index, with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 191. Singapore is in second place, with its passport able to access 190 destinations visa-free. South Korea and Germany are in third place; Italy, Finland, Spain and Luxembourg (fourth place); and in the fifth position are Denmark and Austria.
According to Henley & Partners, when the index was first released in 2006, the average traveller could visit 58 destinations without a visa. But with increase in travel freedom globally, citizens are now enjoying visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 107 destinations on average.
As of February 2020, Nigeria increased its accessibility to foreign visitors with the launch of the Nigeria Visa Policy 2020, which has expanded visa classes, introduced an electronic visa, and extended existing visa waiver arrangements. The policy will enable citizens of the 54 African countries travelling to Nigeria to get their visas at the point of entry. However, Head of Nigeria at Henley & Partners, Stuart Wakeling, said it is unclear whether the policy will result in visa reciprocity for Nigeria.
"How Nigeria responds to the COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately impact on how other states review and approve visa applications for Nigerian nationals as public health is increasingly becoming a major factor for consideration in international travel," Wakeling said, pointing out that "whether this will result in reciprocal visa waivers in favour of Nigeria remains to be seen. The country is also one of several African states subjected to a visa ban by the US government."
The United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway and Switzerland are in seventh position on the latest HPI ranking with their citizens able to access 185 destinations without acquiring a visa in advance.
South Africa is ranked 56th with a travel freedom of 101 destinations, while Kenya is in 72nd position with access to 72 destinations. Ghana is tied with Zimbabwe at 78th position with their passports having access to 65 destinations.
The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and enhanced by ongoing research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.