(PRESS RELEASE) — Moving into the third quarter of 2019, Saint Lucia captured the fourth spot in the OECS, on the Henley Passport Index,with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 144.
This latest ranking of passport power and global mobility – which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – saw Saint Lucia move one rank up from the Q2, due to movements higher up on the index.
Managing Partner of Henley & Partners Saint Lucia, Mark D. Maragh, expresses: “ The people of Saint Lucia remain confident in the power of the Saint Lucian passport. Henley & Partners will continue to work closely with the government of Saint Lucia to ensure that the passport maintains its high standard and attractiveness. With the recent Q3 ranking, we are assured that Saint Lucia’s passport is highly sort after, which means the island can benefit from a better bargaining power, with potential investors.”
In the Q2 rankings, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis were separated by only one spot on the rankings; they are now separated by three spots – landing St.Kitts and Nevis the top spot while Antigua and Barbuda capture the second spot in the OECS in the Q3 ranking. Grenada’s growth remains relatively steady.
Visa-Openness and Progressive Reform Linked to Ranking
Political science researchers Uğur Altundal and Ömer Zarpli, of Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh respectively, have found that there is a link between visa-openness and progressive reform, and that a country’s ranking on the index reveals far more than simply the number of destinations its holders are able to access.
Altundal and Zarpli’s unique research shows that even short-term travel mobility, which represents 85% of all cross-border movements, can positively influence political liberalization and democratization. Conversely, countries moving towards nationalist isolationism and away from policies that encourage visa-openness are likely to drop in the Henley Passport Index rankings and incur geopolitical consequences for themselves and their neighbors.
Altundal and Zarpli observe that “the prospect of visa-waiver agreements with the EU has encouraged neighboring countries to adopt important reforms in areas such as civil and political rights, rule of law, and security,” and note that freedom of movement appears to be a vital pre-condition not only for economic growth, but also for social integration and progressive political change. With nationalism on the rise, and global powerhouses like the UK and the US embracing policies that limit freedom of movement, this new research indicates that associated impacts on political rights, rule of law, security and democracy could be profound.
Commenting on these developments, Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept, says: “With a few notable exceptions, the latest rankings from the Henley Passport Index show that countries around the world increasingly view visa-openness as crucial to economic and social progress. Discussions of passport power and global mobility tend to focus on the benefits for the countries with the strongest passports. However, this latest unique research appears to confirm something that many of us already knew intuitively: that increased visa-openness benefits the entire global community, and not just the strongest countries.”
Investment Migration Countries Secure Strong Positions
Countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs continue to perform strongly on the Henley Passport Index, and demonstrate a similar connection between passport power and economic and social progress. Moving up from the 8th place spot it held last quarter, Malta now sits alone in 7th place with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 182, just one spot behind the UK and the US. Cyprus retains its 16th place on the index, with a score of 172, while the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda is now in 29th place, with a score of 147, rising 11 places over the past decade.
Dr. Juerg Steffen, the CEO of Henley & Partners, says: “Citizenship- and residence-by-investment programs are becoming more sought after, and these latest results make it easy to see why. Look at Malta’s position on the index, for example. For wealthy investors, the acquisition of a passport that gives its holders visa-free access to 182 destinations around the world is genuinely life-changing. And we know now that the benefits of these programs go both ways. Since the introduction of its citizenship-by-investment program, Malta has attracted significant foreign direct investment, dramatically reduced its overall debt levels, become one of the most financially dynamic countries in the EU, and created employment opportunities that have improved the lives of all its citizens.”