Many parts of the world have started to reopen and lift travel bans despite Covid-19 seriously hampering travel and mobility globally. However, Bangladeshi citizens are still restricted from travelling to many countries – especially those of the European Union (EU).
As a result, the passport of Bangladesh is losing its power globally as it has dropped three notches to 101st among 109 spots in the third quarter edition of the Henley Passport Index 2020 (HPI) published on July 7.
This means that the Bangladeshi passport is the world's ninth weakest. It ranked 98th in the first quarter edition of the HPI index published in January this year. However, it was placed at 99th in 2019.
The recent edition of the passport index ranked passports of 199 countries in 109 spots according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
According to the latest ranking, the number of destinations Bangladeshi passport holders can travel to without a prior visa – 41 out of total 227 – has not increased since the January edition.
These 41 destinations include: 16 in Africa, 11 in the Caribbean, seven in Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand), six in Asia, and one in South America.
With a Bangladeshi passport in hand, it is not possible to visit any European country without a visa.
The global Covid-19 pandemic may take a further toll on Bangladeshi passport holders. On July 9, Italy banned the entry of Bangladeshi citizens or passengers in that country till October 5 due to a fear of the virus' spread. Earlier in June, Japan banned flights from Dhaka.
Pandemic affects passport power
Japan's passport is the world's most powerful with visa-free entry to 191 countries, followed by Singapore (190 destinations), and jointly Germany and South Korea (189 destinations). Meanwhile, Afghanistan's passport is the weakest in the world.
Although Japan and South Korea have made it onto the EU's safe countries list, Singapore has not. Hence, the number of destinations with visa-free access has dropped to 163 for Singapore temporarily.
The United States, hardest-hit by Covid-19, has access to 185 countries without any prior visa and shares seventh position with Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. However, the EU has banned entry of American citizens too, resulting in a temporary fall in its visa-free access to the number of destinations to 158, roughly equal travel freedom with Mexico (ranked 25th) and Uruguay (ranked 28th).
South Asia lacks freedom to travel
In the HPI rankings, passports of most South Asian countries have found themselves among the lowest-performing, meaning that the countries in this region significantly lack travel freedom.
The passport of the Maldives is the most powerful in South Asia (ranked 62nd) with visa-free entry to 85 countries followed by India (85th), Bhutan (90th), and Sri Lanka (100th).
Bangladesh is in fifth position in South Asia – ranking above Nepal (104th), Pakistan (107th), and Afghanistan (109th).