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World’s Most Powerful Passports as of Q3 2019

The Henley Passport Index has released its third quarter ranking of the world’s most powerful passports in 2019.

The index is compiled from data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and measures global mobility based on visa-free access to destinations. It also uses data from the index’s 14-year history, “to show how travel mobility has changed over the past decade, looking at which passports have gained in strength and which have fallen behind.”

Japan and Singapore hold the world’s strongest passports, with Visa-free access to 189 destinations. South Korea dropped to second place, joining Germany and Finland with Visa-free access to 187 destinations.

The United Arab Emirates entered the top 20 index for the first time in the list’s 14-year-history, moving up an astonishing 41 spots. Other countries that climbed standings include Taiwan, which climbed 24 places over the past ten years and ranks 30th.

The USA and the UK each dropped to the lowest position they’ve held since 2010, sharing the sixth spot with Canada, Greece, Norway, Belgium and Ireland.

Pakistan now offers an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to citizens of 50 countries, including Finland, Japan, Malta, Spain, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates — but not, notably, the USA or the UK.

Afghanistan is once again at the other end of the rankings, with its citizens needing a prior visa for all but 25 destinations worldwide.

Most Powerful Passports of Q3 2019:
1. Japan, Singapore (189 Destinations)
2. South Korea, Germany, Finland (187)
3. Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg (186)
4. France, Sweden, Spain (185)
5. Austria, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland (184)
6. Canada, Norway, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, UK, US (183)
7. Malta (182)
8. Czechia (181)
9. Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, Lithuania (180)
10. Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia (179)

The Least Powerful Passports of Q3 2019:

101. Bangladesh, Eritrea, Iran, Lebanon, North Korea (39 Destinations)
102. Nepal (38)
103. Libya, Palestinian, Sudan (37)
104. Yemen (33)
105. Somalia (31)
106. Pakistan (30)
107. Syria (29)
108. Iraq (27)
109. Afghanistan (25)

Source: Henley Passport Index

Video: Exploring the Beauty of New Zealand’s South Island

A short film by Damien Blue, Bryan Mir, Christie Suchomel and Cody LaPlant.

67-Year Old Russian Adventurer Fedor Konyukhov Rows Across Southern Ocean, Reaching Chile after 154 days Alone at Sea, Breaking Five World Records

Russian adventurer and orthodox priest Fedor Konyukhov thanked his patron saint after completing the 7,000-mile first leg of his solo journey around the southern hemisphere in a rowing boat. On this, the first leg of his circumnavigation, he survived snow storms, 25ft waves, and was capsizing four times. Continue reading

Best Countries for Quality of Life

Through all phases of life, Canada and Scandinavian countries treat their citizens well, according to US News.

  1. Canada
  2. Sweden
  3. Denmark
  4. Norway
  5. Switzerland
  6. Finland
  7. Australia
  8. Netherlands
  9. New Zealand
  10. Germany
  11. Belgium
  12. United Kingdom
  13. Japan
  14. Luxemburg
  15. Ireland
  16. France
  17. USA
  18. Singapore
  19. Portugal
  20. China
  21. Spain
  22. Italy
  23. South Korea
  24. Poland
  25. Czech Republic

More info at US News

Reference: Living 2.0

Canada and Scandinavian countries top the 2019 Quality of Life Rankings

The BAV Group, a unit of communications company VMLY&R, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, surveyed 20,300 citizens from 36 countries in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa were asked to score 80 countries on 75 different attributes.

The attributes were grouped under different categories: adventure, citizenship, cultural influence, entrepreneurship, heritage, movers, open for business, power and quality of life.

The Quality of Life ranking is based on an equally weighted average of scores from nine attributes: affordable, a good job market, economically stable, family friendly, income equality, politically stable, safe, well-developed public education system and well-developed public health system.

2019 Quality of Life Rankings

  1. Canada (no change from 2018)
  2. Sweden (#3 in 2018)
  3. Denmark (#2 in 2018)
  4. Norway (no change from 2018)
  5. Switzerland (#6 in 2018)
  6. Finland (#7 in 2018)
  7. Australia (#5 in 2018)
  8. Netherlands (no change from 2018)
  9. New Zealand (no change in 2018)
  10. Germany (no change in 2018)

Read more

The Worlds Most Powerful Passports, as of January 2019

  1. Japan (190 countries can be visited without a visa)
  2. Singapore, South Korea (189)
  3. Germany, France (188)
  4. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden (187)
  5. Luxembourg, Spain (186)
  6. Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, U.K., U.S. (185)
  7. Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland (184)
  8. Czech Republic (183)
  9. Malta (182)
  10. Australia, Iceland, New Zealand (181)

London-based consulting firm Henley & Partners, using data from the International Air Transport Association, compiles this index of passports that allow visa-free travel.

In the past, this was an annual list, released every January. The list is now being updated every few months.

Since January 2018, Germany has been knocked out of top spot, while both the U,K. and U.S. passports have dropped one place in the rankings.

More at Lonely PlanetTraveller,  CNN

These passports offer 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)

Travellers to New Zealand can be compelled at customs to hand over mobile devices and passwords

Travellers who refuse to hand over their phone or laptop passwords to Customs officials can now be slapped with a NZ$5000 fine.

The updated law makes clear that travellers must provide access – whether that be a password, pin-code or fingerprint – but officials would need to have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.

“It is a file-by-file [search] on your phone. We’re not going into ‘the cloud’. We’ll examine your phone while it’s on flight mode,” Customs spokesperson Terry Brown said.

If people refused to comply, they could be fined up to $5000 and their device would be seized and forensically searched.

More at RadioNZ, ZDNet, The Register

The 13 most peaceful countries in the world – in honor of International Peace Day

According to the 2018 Global Peace Index:

  1. Iceland
  2. New Zealand
  3. Austria
  4. Portugal
  5. Denmark
  6. Canada
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Singapore
  9. Japan
  10. Ireland
  11. Slovenia
  12. Switzerland
  13. Australia

The Global Peace Index is developed by the Institute for Economics & Peace, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable and tangible measure of human wellbeing and progress.

IEP is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with offices in New York, The Hague, Mexico City, and Brussels. It works with a wide range of partners internationally and collaborates with intergovernmental organisations on measuring and communicating the economic value of peace.

The chart is also available here.

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

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