Vietnamese passport among world's least powerful

By Nguyen Quy   December 20, 2019 | 01:49 am PT
Vietnamese passport among world's least powerful
People holding a Vietnamese passport have free access to 65 countries and territories. Photo by Shutterstock/trananhuy
Despite ascending five spots from last year, the Vietnamese passport remains among the world's weakest.

The Vietnamese passport this year climbed to 70th among 89 in the Passport Index released by Arton Capital, a global financial advisory firm based in Singapore. It ranks passports of 199 economies based on the number of countries a holder can visit without first obtaining a visa or applying for one on entry.

Accordingly, Vietnamese passport holders currently enjoy free access to 65 countries and territories, compared to 56 last year.

Across Southeast Asia, a Vietnamese passport holds the same clout as one from Cambodia, only more powerful than those of Laos and Myanmar with visa free access to only 60 and 53 destinations respectively.

Singapore and Malaysia hold the most powerful passports in the region with the former ranking 4th with visa exemption to 169 localities and the latter 9th, exempted from 164.

Thailand witnessed substantial improvement in rankings, rising two places to 52nd. Thais can now travel to 88 countries and territories without applying for a visa, slightly higher than Indonesians (55th) with visa-free access to 84 countries.

United Arab Emirates boasts the most powerful passport in the world, its citizens able to visit 178 of 198 countries and territories without applying for a visa. Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and Spain ranked second with citizens having visa-free access to 171 destinations.

Japan, South Korea and the U.S. shared third position with Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Portugal, Austria and Switzerland.

The world’s weakest passports are held by poor countries mired in conflict including Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, holders only able to visit between 32 and 39 other countries visa-free.

Travel industry insiders said growing affluence has spurred Vietnamese to spend more on foreign jaunts.

A 2017 World Bank report said the country was seeing an increasing number of people, estimated at 1.5 million each year, joining the ranks of the middle and upper classes.

Global real estate consultant Knight Frank earlier this year said the number of extremely rich individuals in Vietnam is set to grow at the fastest rate in the world: by 31 percent in the next five years.

Vietnam had 12,327 millionaires in 2018, up 5 percent from the previous year, Knight Frank said.

According to Mastercard, Vietnam has the second fastest growing outbound market in the Asia Pacific region after Myanmar, with projected annual growth of 9.5 percent between 2016 and 2021. The firm has forecast that some 7.5 million Vietnamese travelers will venture outside the country in 2021.

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