China climbs 22 places in rankings of global travel freedom
Passengers seen at Daxing International Airport, Beijing, China, March 16, 2021. /CFP

Passengers seen at Daxing International Airport, Beijing, China, March 16, 2021. /CFP

China has been up 22 places from 90th to 68th in terms of global travel freedom since 2011, with its citizens able to travel to 77 countries all over the world, according to the latest Henley Passport Index by consulting firm Henley & Partners.

The Henley Passport Index ranks all the world's passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

The Index shows that without taking temporary COVID-19 travel restrictions into account, Japan still tops the index, giving the passport holders access to 193 destinations. Currently, foreign citizens are barred from entering Japan due to COVID-19. Singapore ranks the second with visa-free access to 192 countries; South Korea and Germany are on the heels with access to 191 countries. EU countries hold most of the remaining top 10 spots.

Although there has been very little movement in the Index for the past five quarters since the outbreak of COVID-19, looking back for a decade, it reveals that China is the biggest climbers in terms of travel freedom in the past decade: The country has risen by 22 places in the ranking since 2011, from 90th position with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 40 to 68th position with a score of 77.

The 2021 Index revealed the widest gap in global mobility freedom since 2006 as Japanese passport holders can visit 167 more destinations than those in Afghan who can get access to 26 nations.

Experts say as more countries are rolling out vaccination programs, the gap of mobility freedom will further widened as those wealthy countries that can get more vaccines will soon resume mobility freedom, which will further attract visitors for business and leisure, while countries that are facing conflicts and those that lack funding to ensure adequate storage and efficient distribution of vaccines will lag behind in easing mobility restrictions. 

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