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South African Passport Power Remains Stable in 2019

The South African passport remains stable in 2019 on the latest Henley Passport Index. South Africa, ranked 53rd globally, continues to occupy 3rd place in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, following the Seychelles, ranked 27th globally, and Mauritius, ranked 31st globally. Somalia, Libya, and Eritrea sit at the bottom of the index in Africa, each only able to access 35 or fewer destinations visa-free.

Japan goes into the new year holding 1st place on the Henley Passport Index, with citizens enjoying visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations. In a further display of Asian passport power, Singapore and South Korea now sit in joint 2nd place, with access to 189 destinations around the globe. This marks a new high for South Korea, which moved up the ranking following a recent visa-on-arrival agreement with India. Germany and France remain in 3rd place going into 2019, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 188.

The US and the UK continue to drop down the Henley Passport Index — which is based on authoritative data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — and now sit in joint 6th place, with access to 185 destinations. This is a significant fall from the 1st place position that these countries held in 2015. Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Sweden now hold joint 4th place, while Spain and Luxembourg are in 5th. As they have done for much of the index’s 14-year history, Iraq and Afghanistan remain at the bottom of the ranking, with access to just 30 visa-free destinations.

Turkey’s recent introduction of an online e-Visa service has resulted in some interesting changes to the overall rankings. As of October 2018, citizens of over 100 countries (including Canada, the UK, Norway, and the US) must apply for an e-Visa before they travel to Turkey, instead of being able to do so on arrival. While this specific change means that a number of countries have dropped slightly in the rankings, it does not alter the overwhelmingly positive effect of the wider global tendency towards visa-openness and mutually beneficial agreements. Historical data from the Henley Passport Index shows that in 2006, a citizen, on average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by the end of 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107.

Amanda Smit Director of Henley & Partners South Africa and Head of Central, East and Southern African, says this latest ranking shows that despite rising isolationist sentiment in some parts of the world, many countries remain committed to collaboration. “The Henley Passport Index is an important tool for measuring not only the relative strength of the world’s passports but also the extraordinary results that states can achieve when they work hand in hand with their global peers to build a more interconnected and collaborative world. South Korea and the United Arab Emirates’ recent ascent in the rankings are further examples of what happens when countries take a proactive foreign affairs approach, an attitude which significantly benefits their citizens as well as the international community.”

Countries Continue to Embrace Mutually Beneficial Migration

Asian countries’ continued dominance of the Henley Passport Index reflects the extraordinary effect that international mobility and migration has had on the region. The full scope of this impact is explored in the recently launched 2019 edition of the Henley Passport Index and Global Mobility Report – a unique publication that offers cutting-edge analysis and commentary from leading scholars and professional experts on the latest trends shaping international and regional mobility patterns today.

As is clear from the United Arab Emirates’ continued upward trajectory, the Middle Eastern powerhouse has taken a similar approach to Asian high performers. Now holding top spot in the region at 22nd place globally on the Henley-IATA index, with its citizens able to access 164 destinations around the globe, the nation recently signed agreements with a number of countries, including Mexico, Japan, and Sierra Leone. Commenting on the UAE’s recent partnerships with African nations, Ryan Cummings, Director of Signal Risk, says: “The United Arab Emirates has demonstrated a penchant for reciprocating visa deregulation as the country aims to attract diverse skill-sets and increase the power of its own passport.”

Cummings suggests that the African continent would also benefit from this more expansive approach: “Africa continues to lag behind the rest of the world. That said, it is certainly moving in the right direction in terms of enhancing visa openness. Over the past year, several African countries – notably Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia and Senegal – relaxed visa requirements, with the intention of enhancing trade, co-operation, and security.”

Citizenship-by-investment countries consolidate their respective positions

As in 2018, countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs continue to hold their strong positions. Malta, for instance, sits in 9th spot, with access to 182 destinations around the world. St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda hold 27th and 28th spot respectively, while Moldova remains in a strong position at 46th place, with citizens able to access 122 countries. A recent agreement signed between St. Kitts and Nevis and Belarus, due to come into effect in the coming months, will further strengthen the St. Kitts and Nevis passport, and enhance the travel freedom of its citizens.

Smit concludes: “CBI programs offer access to some of the world’s strongest and most promising passports, and the strength of these reflects the underlying stability and attractiveness of the countries themselves. The travel freedom that comes with a second passport is significant for individuals, while the economic and societal value that CBI programs generate for host countries can be transformative.”

 

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

International Tourist Arrivals to Africa Grew 7% Above the World Average in 2018: Report

Africa and Middle East Middle East grew above the world average while Asia and the Pacific and Europe grew at 6%; 2018 totaled 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals, consolidating 2017 strong results and proving to be the second strongest year since 2010; for 2019, UNWTO forecasts a 3-4% increase, in line with the historical growth trend.

International tourist arrivals grew 6% in 2018, totaling 1.4 billion according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. UNWTO’s long term forecast issued in 2010 indicated the 1.4 billion mark would be reached in 2020, yet the remarkable growth of international arrivals in recent years has brought it two years ahead.

UNWTO estimates that worldwide international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased 6% to 1.4 billion in 2018, clearly above the 3.7% growth registered in the global economy.

In relative terms, the Middle East (+10%), Africa (+7%), Asia and the Pacific and Europe (both at +6%) led growth in 2018. Arrivals to the Americas were below the world average (+3%).

“The growth of tourism in recent years confirms that the sector is today one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and development. It is our responsibility to manage it in a sustainable manner and translate this expansion into real benefits for all countries, and particularly, to all local communities, creating opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship and leaving no one behind” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “This is why UNWTO is focussing 2019 on education, skills and job creation.”, he added.

UNWTO’s long-term forecast published in 2010 predicted the 1.4 billion mark of international tourist arrivals for 2020. Yet stronger economic growth, more affordable air travel, technological changes, new businesses models and greater visa facilitation around the word have accelerated growth in recent years.

International tourist arrivals in Europe reached 713 million in 2018, a notable 6% increase over an exceptionally strong 2017. Growth was driven by Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+7%), Central and Eastern Europe (+6%) and Western Europe (+6%). Results in Northern Europe were flat due to the weakness of arrivals to the United Kingdom.

Asia and the Pacific (+6%) recorded 343 million international tourist arrivals in 2018. Arrivals in South-East Asia grew 7%, followed by North-East Asia (+6%) and South Asia (+5%). Oceania showed more moderate growth at +3%.

The Americas (+3%) welcomed 217 million international arrivals in 2018, with mixed results across destinations. Growth was led by North America (+4%), and followed by South America (+3%), while Central America and the Caribbean (both -2%) reached very mixed results, the latter reflecting the impact of the September 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Data from Africa points to a 7% increase in 2018 (North Africa at +10% and Sub-Saharan +6%), reaching an estimated 67 million arrivals. The Middle East (+10%) showed solid results last year consolidating its 2017 recovery, with international tourist arrivals reaching 64 million.

Based on current trends, economic prospects and the UNWTO Confidence Index, UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to grow 3% to 4% next year, more in line with historic growth trends.

As a general backdrop, the stability of fuel prices tends to translate into affordable air travel while air connectivity continues to improve in many destinations, facilitating the diversification of source markets.

Trends also show strong outbound travel from emerging markets, especially India and Russia but also from smaller Asian and Arab source markets.
At the same time, the global economic slowdown, the uncertainty related to the Brexit, as well as geopolitical and trade tensions may prompt a “wait and see” attitude among investors and travellers.

Overall, 2019 is expected to see the consolidation among consumers of emerging trends such as the quest for ‘travel to change and to show’, ‘the pursuit of healthy options’ such as walking, wellness and sports tourism, ‘multigenerational travel’ as a result of demographic changes and more responsible travel.
“Digitalisation, new business models, more affordable travel and societal changes are expected to continue shaping our sector, so both destination and companies need to adapt if they want to remain competitive”, added Pololikashvili.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].