Industries in Depth

These are the world’s most powerful passports to have in 2024

A powerful passport is one that grants visa-free access to many countries around the world.

A 'powerful passport' is one that grants visa-free access to many countries around the world. Image: Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Thea de Gallier
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Travel and Tourism

  • The latest World Economic Forum Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024 reveals the countries with the most favourable conditions for travel and tourism development.
  • Europe and Asia-Pacific regions, and high-income economies in particular, continue to do best, also reflected in this year's Henley Passport Index, with France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain in joint top spot for the world's most 'powerful passports'.
  • Tourism contributes 10% of global GDP and generates 1 in every 10 jobs, yet balancing growth with sustainability remains a major challenge for the sector.

The latest World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Development Index (TTDI) highlights how the recovery of the travel and tourism sector since the pandemic has been uneven, but suggests some nations are better placed than others to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the future.

This message is echoed by the Henley Passport Index most powerful passports tracker, which offers good news in particular for many EU citizens.

The index has been tracking the world’s most powerful passports for the past 19 years. The list ranks passports by how many countries they allow the holder to visit without a visa.

In the joint top spot this year are France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain, with citizens of those countries able to visit 194 out of 227 countries visa-free, or by obtaining a visa on arrival. Japan is at the top of the list for the sixth year in a row.


What is the TTDI?

The most powerful passports in 2024

Here are the top 10 rankings for the most powerful passports in 2024, and the number of other countries these passport holders can visit, without having to obtain a visa in advance.

1. France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain (194 destinations)

2. Finland, South Korea, Sweden (193 destinations)

3. Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands (192 destinations)

4. Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom (191 destinations)

5. Greece, Malta, Switzerland (190 destinations)

6. Australia, Czechia, New Zealand, Poland (189 destinations)

7. Canada, Hungary, United States (188 destinations)

8. Estonia, Lithuania (187 destinations)

9. Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia (186 destinations)

10. Iceland (185 destinations)

The Relationship between Global Mobility and Economic Prosperity
G7 countries score highly on the Henley Passport Index. Image: Henley & Partners Global Mobility Report 2024

The link between visa-free travel and economic power

As well as ranking passport power, Henley & Partners’ report also looks at the relationship between global mobility and economic prosperity. By analyzing trade blocs as well as individual passports, a picture emerges of the most powerful and wealthy parts of the world, and how their citizens enjoy greater levels of access to other countries.

The G7, for instance, which comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, has a 44% share of global GDP. The G7 scores 100% for internal access, meaning citizens of those seven countries can visit all others in the bloc visa-free. It has an 85% score on the overall passport index, indicating the level of worldwide visa-free access those nationalities enjoy, but only a 39% score for openness – the number of other nationalities that can visit G7 countries visa-free.

By contrast, the African Union, with a 3% share of GDP, has a 28% score on the overall passport index, but conversely, a higher level of openness at 49%. “African mobility is headed for a crossroads in 2024, with the possibility of a drastic improvement in intracontinental travel, passport power, and passport openness,” said author and journalist Justice Malala, in an analysis of the status of travel and tourism in Africa. His comments came after Kenya decided to ditch visas from January 2024, with the aim of encouraging more tourists.

Have you read?

The future of tourism

Tourism contributes 10% of global GDP and generates 1 in every 10 jobs, according to the World Economic Forum’s report, Ten Principles for Sustainable Destinations: Charting a new path forward for travel and tourism.

Sustainable destinations
10 ways to make travel and tourism more sustainable. Image: WEF

Singapore – one of the top power passport countries – aims to harness the personal and economic benefits of tourism with its Skills Framework for Tourism, an initiative “designed to promote skills mastery and lifelong learning” among its workforce.

Cultivating the workforce is also one of the Forum’s 10 principles for sustainable tourism, which it says can contribute to 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

But the sector still has a long way to go to reach equity. As Dr Christian H Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners, pointed out: “The average number of destinations travellers are able to access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024. However … the top-ranked countries are now able to travel to a staggering 166 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the ranking with access to just 28 countries without a visa.”

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