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(PRESS RELEASE) – According to the latest results of the Henley Passport Index, Saint Lucia has climbed from 142 in Q3 to 146 , ranking 3rd in the Eastern Caribbean region and 31st worldwide.
On the whole, Eastern Caribbean countries far outperform their peers in the greater Caribbean region: Jamaica, for example, is ranked 61st, Dominican Republic is ranked 75th, Cuba is ranked 76th, and Haiti is ranked 89th. The main differentiator is access to the Schengen Area, which all the Eastern Caribbean states enjoy.
A St. Lucian passport provides visa-free travel to 146 destinations, including the EU Schengen area, the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and many others. The island nation attracts foreign business and investment, especially in its international banking and tourism industries.
Commenting on the recent findings, Mark Maragh, Director of Henley & Partners Saint Lucia, says:
“This accomplishment is testament that the efforts by Henley & Partners together with Saint Lucia’s CIP Unit are effective . The recent scores places Saint Lucia in a highly sort after position, which means more opportunities for economic growth for the people of Saint Lucia.”
He added: “We must continue to build further international ties in order for the Saint Lucian Passport to continue to improve its score, and compete at the global level.”
St. Kitts holds the strongest passport in the Eastern Caribbean region, and the 26th strongest passport in the world, with 151 destinations accessible visa-free or with a visa on arrival. Close behind St. Kitts and Nevis is Antigua and Barbuda, in 27th place globally, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 149 — up one point from Q3.
Grenada’s score has risen from 141 to 144, and the Grenadian passport is currently the 33rd strongest in the world. At the bottom of the Eastern Caribbean regional ranking is Dominica, which sits in 37th place globally.
Haiti and CARICOM travel update
In June this year, Barbados abolished visa requirements for Haitians, who are the only CARICOM nationals who do not enjoy freedom of travel to other member countries. At the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government Summit in July, a number of government leaders made similar pledges to that of Barbados, although no unilateral agreement regarding Haitian travel access was reached, and to date only Barbados has lifted restrictions.
Renato Whitaker, Analyst at S-RM Intelligence and Risk Consulting, says that, although the move towards more equitable travel access for Haitians is welcome, there are still a number of obstacles that need to be overcome: “The prevalence of organized crime likely contributes to Haiti’s regional isolation in terms of freedom of movement. Furthermore, heightened criminality in Haiti has also led to large migrant outflows to countries throughout the western hemisphere, including the US, the Bahamas, and others in the Caribbean region. Existing travel restrictions targeting Haiti are therefore also likely linked to initiatives aimed at ebbing the flow of outward migration.”
The US and the UK, both with 186 destinations, have also slid down one spot on the Henley Passport Index — from 4th to 5th place — with neither country having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of 2018. With stagnant outbound visa activity compared to Asian high-performers such as Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, it seems increasingly unlikely that the US and the UK will regain the number 1 spot they jointly held in 2015.
Russia received a boost in September when Taiwan announced a visa-waiver for Russian nationals (valid until July 2019), but the country has nonetheless fallen from 46th to 47th place compared to Q3, because of movements higher up in 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 this quarter, to 71st overall. This is still an impressive 14-place improvement over the position that China held at the start of 2017.
For the first time since the Henley Passport Index was launched, the UAE has caught up to Israel and is now tied with that country in 21st place globally and in 1st place in the Middle East. Both the UAE and Israel have visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 161 destinations. While Israel has wavered between 18th and 25th place since 2006, the UAE has made a stunning ascent from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st place currently.
Citizenship-by-investment countries make strong gains
Countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs in place all fall within the top 50 of the Henley Passport Index and are continually rising up the ranking. Newcomer Moldova, for example, which launched its CBI program in the second half of this year, has climbed 20 places since 2008. Every CBI program country has improved its visa-free/visa-on-arrival score since the start of the year.
“CBI programs offer access to some of the world’s strongest and most promising passports, including here in the Caribbean” says Isaac of Henley & Partners. “The merit of these passports is a reflection of the underlying stability and attractiveness of the countries themselves.
The travel freedom that comes with a second passport is significant for individuals, while the economic and societal value that CBI programs generate for host countries can be transformative. In St. Kitts and Nevis especially, revenues from the CBI program have been the bedrock of the country’s economic growth over the past decade or so.”