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Japan’s passport offers the most travel freedom

The Henley Passport Index is a ranking of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without first obtaining a visa.

Henley & Partners released this press release today:

Japan has overtaken Singapore to claim the top spot on the 2018 Henley Passport Index, having gained visa-free access to Myanmar this month. Japan now enjoys visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations, compared to Singapore’s total of 189. The countries have been neck and neck since they both climbed to 1st place in February, pushing Germany down to 2nd place for the first time since 2014.

Germany has now fallen further to 3rd place, which it shares with South Korea and France. Their nationals enjoy visa-free access to 188 countries. France moved up a place last Friday when it gained visa-free access to Uzbekistan. Iraq and Afghanistan continues to sit at the bottom (106th) of the Henley Passport Index — based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association(IATA).

The US and the UK, both with 186 destinations, have slid down yet another spot — from 4th to 5th place — with neither having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of 2018. With stagnant outbound visa activity compared to Asian high-performers, it seems unlikely they will regain the number 1 spot they jointly held in 2015 any time soon.

In general, the UAE has made the most remarkable ascent on the Henley Passport Index, from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st place worldwide currently, and looking ahead, the most dramatic climb might come from Kosovo, which officially met all the criteria for visa-liberalization with the EU in July and is now in discussions with the European Council.

Russia received a boost in September when Taiwan announced a visa-waiver, but the country has nonetheless fallen from 46th to 47th place due to movements higher up the ranking. The same is true of China: Chinese nationals obtained access to two new jurisdictions (St. Lucia and Myanmar), but the Chinese passport fell two places, to 71st overall.

Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, says countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs all fall within the top 50 of the Henley Passport Index. Newcomer Moldova, which is due to launch its CBI program in November, has climbed 20 places since 2008. “The travel freedom that comes with a second passport is significant, while the economic and societal value that CBI programs generate for host countries can be transformative,” says Dr. Kälin.

The top countries are:

1. Japan (190 countries)

2. Singapore (189 countries)

3. Germany (188 countries)

4. (Tied) France, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Spain (187 countries)

5. (Tied) Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, USA (186 countries)

6. (Tied) Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland (185 countries)

7. (Tied) Australia, Greece, Malta (183 countries)

8. (Tied) New Zealand, Czech Republic (182 countries)

9. Iceland (181 countries)

10. (Tied) Hungary, Slovenia, Malaysia (180 countries)

10 great long-distance cycle routes in Europe

There are others. These were suggested by readers of The Guardian.

  1. Passau, Germany, to Vienna, Austria.
  2. The pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome.
  3. The River Loire, France.
  4. The Romantic Road, southern Germany.
  5. From Rotterdam, take the Eurovelo 2cycle trail, also called the Capitals Route, across the Netherlands and Germany to Berlin, then on to Moscow if you wish.
  6. Gospić to Karlobag, along the Croatian seaside.
  7. The Amalfi coast, in Italy.
  8.  Milan to Sanremo, 200 km leg of the The Giro d’Italia.
  9. From Dieppe to Paris in the French countryside.
  10. Baie de Somme, Picardie, France.

More at The Guardian

UNWTO report confirms another record year for tourism, for most

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s 2018 Tourism Highlights, the total number of international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) grew 7 percent from 2016 to 2017.

International tourist arrivals reached a total of 1.323 billion in 2017, some 84 million more than the previous year and a new record. The sector has now seen uninterrupted growth in arrivals for eight straight years.

2017 was the eighth consecutive year of above- average growth in international tourism following the 2009 global economic crisis. The growth in the travel and tourism industry has been fuelled by the global economic upswing, resulting in strong outbound demand.

By region, Europe and Africa saw bigger than average growth of 8 and 9 percent, respectively. By subregion, North Africa and Southern and Mediterranean Europe saw the greatest increases in 2017, reflecting strong demand for destinations along the Mediterranean.

When looking at sheer numbers, Europe continues to lead with almost half of the world’s total international arrivals, at 671 million. Europe was also home to six of the ten most visited countries in 2017, with France remaining in the lead.

Spain overtook the USA for second place as international tourism to the USA was down almost 4%.  Continue reading

The Economist ranks the world’s most livable cities

Each year, the Economist Intelligence Unit release its annual Global Livability Index which measuring the most livable large cities in the world. In this year’s report, Vienna, Austria has succeeded in displacing Melbourne, Australia from the stop spot, which it previously held for a record seven consecutive years.

The Economist says:

The concept of liveability is simple: it assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide. Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories of Stability, Healthcare, Culture and environment, Education and Infrastructure.

The 20 top rankings are populated with cities in Europe (9), Australia (4), Japan (2), New Zealand (1), and Canada (4).

Honolulu was the highest U.S. city at number 23. The next highest American city was Pittsburgh in 32nd position. Manchester was the highest ranked in the UK at number 35.

Here are the top 50:

1. Vienna, Austria

2. Melbourne, Australia

3. Osaka, Japan

4. Calgary, Canada

5. Sydney, Australia

6.  Vancouver, Canada

7. (Tied) Tokyo, Japan

7. (Tied) Toronto, Canada

9. Copenhagen, Denmark

10. Adelaide, Australia

Continue reading

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