Passport Index Data Reveals the Return to Global Freedom

World Openness Score reaches near pre-pandemic levels as borders continue to reopen.

You can finally expel a sigh of relief after nearly two years of watching the rise and fall of the Passport Index’ acclaimed World Openness Score (WOS) — one of the most accurate real-time data of the world’s mobility status.

Looking at the trajectory of global mobility, the WOS paints a clear picture of overarching trends by calculating the total visa waivers around the world.

To put things in perspective, the WOS was increasing at a steady rate of 4% per year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, to an all-time high of 21,360. This meant that more than half of the world was sharing open borders.

At the first sight of COVID-19, this number dropped by 65% to its lowest-ever score of 12,994 by May 2020 — a time when the world was as closed as it had ever been.

Today, the real-time World Openness Score is shining at 20,334 — an exciting revelation suggesting that the worst might just be over, and a new momentum of global mobility is well underway.

In fact, less than 10% of countries currently have a COVID-19 ban on travel, while nearly 12% of countries including Laos, Philippines, Indonesia have basic travel restrictions — such as suspending Visa-on-Arrival and e-Visa services, and instead only permitting visas with a written authorization.

Most of the European Union countries have already lifted their COVID-19 entry rules for travellers, and some others have relaxed their existing restrictions, with a total of 15 countries including Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland – all currently permitting restriction-free entry to all travellers.

Meanwhile, the latest data provided by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show that global international arrivals in January 2022 have increased by 130% compared to the same period last year. This means that only during the first month of 2022, the global market registered 18 million more visitors.

And while Passport Index’ data also paints a picture of a world with an inherent desire to travel, discover, and reconnect across the globe; the dramatic bounce-back of the WOS might even suggest that the value of global mobility might be as undisputed as ever.

As they say, the irony of life is that you never know the importance of something until it’s gone.

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