Financial services firm, Arton Capital, through its Passport Index, has launched new functionalities including dashboards to help people navigate the travel chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Arton Capital’s Passport Index ranks travel documents by the number of countries that can be visited without having to apply for a visa.
“Currently, travel is chaos. Global mobility has reached an all-time low. And continuous changes with visa regulations have blurred all the information surrounding travel restrictions.
“With the constant backlash of misleading, contradicting and outdated data, Passport Index innovated with updates that offer global visitors clear and real-time information on the right of travel,” it said.
Whether visitors are looking for visa requirements, updates with their passport rankings, or searching for updates for renewed regulations relating to travel and tourism, Arton said that each country’s passport has its own dashboard; consolidating all the relevant and recent information into one structured page.
With the one-stop overview of a country’s passport data, the new and enhanced Passport Index user experience offers visitors a chance to discover the passport’s historical global mobility score, dating back to 2015 and more drastically pre- and post-Covid data.
Pre- and post-Covid passport rankings
Despite the high volatility of passport power throughout the past year, Passport Index has updated passport rankings in real-time, displaying the true effect of the pandemic on passport rankings.
The data is clear: with temporary travel bans and visa restrictions, many countries that once held a powerful passport, are now ranking among the lowest in the world, it said.
World Openness Score climbs back
Arton’s Passport Index shows the clear influence of the pandemic with its World Openness Score (WOS), the benchmark of open travel between countries.
Since its inception in 2015, the WOS has continued to increase at an average rate of 6% per year, reaching an all-time world openness of 54% back in December 2019, Arton said.
“Once the pandemic hit — although active visa agreements were not changed, temporary entry bans and border closures resulted in a staggering decrease in the WOS, dropping 65% within weeks.
“But what goes down, must come up as they say. Currently, as countries lift their travel bans and reencourage visa-free travel, the WOS is showing a promising rise of 15%.”
New Zealand‘s passport has overtaken Japan to become the most powerful travel document globally, the Passport Index showed on Monday (5 October).
The index looks at the passports of 193 United Nations members and six territories.
New Zealand currently has visa-free access, or visa on entry, to 129 countries and regions, up from 80 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
South Africa has a Passport Power Rank of 38 – with citizens allowed to travel visa-free to 37 countries, 32 are visa on arrival, while 126 countries require a visa.
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) meanwhile, has issued a list of 60 countries that won’t be allowed to travel into South Africa for leisure purposes.
The DHA has stated that only leisure travellers from these countries will be banned. However, it is more complicated than that, and has therefore drawn much criticism.