The Passport Index by Canada-based global financial advisory firm, Arton Capital has declared, in this year’s rankings, that Nigeria is the joint ‘most open’ country in the world.
According to Arton Capital, citizens from 198 countries worldwide can now travel to Nigeria without a pre-arranged visa. Nigeria shares the top spot with 21 other countries, 13 of which are from the African continent – with more than 50 percent of the world’s most welcoming countries hailing from Africa.
“This year’s findings from both our Welcoming Index and our Global Index show some impressive dynamic changes for the Nigerian passport,” President of Arton Capital, Armand Arton, who produced The Passport Index, said in a statement.
Tourism presents an area of fast potential growth for the Nigerian economy and remains an essentially untapped sector. Tourism currently makes up around 2percent of the Nigerian GDP, but there are hopes that ease of access will act as a catalyst to revolutionise the way Nigeria is seen as a tourist destination.
“Whilst the Nigerian passport does not at present offer access into a significant number of countries visa-free, the legality of dual-citizenship makes it a lot easier for Nigerians working abroad to travel without persistent visa limitations,” Arton said.
The unfortunate reality remains that Nigerians are currently limited in their ability to travel abroad, despite their welcoming of foreign nationals into the country. With access to only 48 countries worldwide without a pre-arranged visa, some Nigerians are now actively choosing to take advantage of dual-citizenships.
Many countries offer potential programme paths to citizenship, a trend wealthy Nigerians, in particular, are finding gives them better access to foreign travel and opportunities abroad.
To date, no Nigerian visa arrangements or policies with other countries have been cancelled, and all COVID-related restrictions currently in place are temporary. A strong bounce-back for international travel in Africa and globally is expected soon.
“In addition, a strong welcoming score will aide tourism into the country whilst the signing of visa-free travel agreements will allow Nigerians to visit more countries than ever before,” Arton said.
Tourism is a veritable instrument for socio-economic development as it impacts directly on the economy through the provision of resources and income that could be deployed to enhance economic growth, accelerate development and reduce poverty.
Tourism is also an important mechanism for social exchange and identity building at all levels. Currently, the rate of tourism development has increased across the globe. In contemporary time, tourism can be clearly defined as the new socio-economic game changer.
The Passport Index measures the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and 6 territories (ROC Taiwan, Macao (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican) – a total of 199 are considered.
Data for the report was based on official information provided by governments, updated in real-time with intelligence obtained through crowdsourcing and enhanced with proprietary research from highly credible sources.